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Совет национальной безопасности США
Совет национальной безопасности (англ. National Security Council, сокращённо СНБ) — консультативный орган при президенте США для решения наиболее важных вопросов национальной безопасности и внешней политики, и координации действий всех основных ведомств, связанных с указанными вопрос ...

Совет национальной безопасности (англ. National Security Council, сокращённо СНБ) — консультативный орган при президенте США для решения наиболее важных вопросов национальной безопасности и внешней политики, и координации действий всех основных ведомств, связанных с указанными вопросами.

Совет национальной безопасности был создан в 1947 году законом о национальной безопасности. Его созданию послужила убеждённость влиятельных американских политиков в том, что дипломатия Государственного департамента США больше не была способна сдерживать СССР при напряжённых отношениях между СССР и США[1]. Конечной целью его создания было обеспечение согласованности действий между военно-морскими силами, Корпусом морской пехоты, сухопутными войсками и военно-воздушными силами США.

2009 г.:

Заседание СНБ: президент Барак Обама, Госсекретарь Хиллари Клинтон, Министр обороны — Роберт Гейтс, Заместитель начальника ОКНШ — ген. Кэртрайт, директор разведки Деннис Блэр, советник президента Грег Крейг, директор ЦРУ Леон Панетта, заместитель начальника Совета внутренней безопасности Том Донилон, советник президента по национальной безопасности ген. Джеймс «Джим» Джонс и глава президентской администрации Рэм Эмануел

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10 декабря, 22:14

U.N. Security Council condemns Gambia's Jammeh, urges restraint

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Saturday condemned Gambia President Yahya Jammeh's rejection of election results announced last week that saw him lose power after 22 years, and it urged all parties to refrain from violence.

09 декабря, 23:35

U.N. council meets on North Korea human rights despite China opposition

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council discussed on Friday what a senior U.N. official described as "appalling human rights violations" in North Korea, despite a failed attempt by China to stop the third annual meeting on the issue.

09 декабря, 21:46

U.N. council meets on North Korea human rights despite China opposition

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council discussed on Friday what a senior U.N. official described as "appalling human rights violations" in North Korea, despite a failed attempt by China to stop the third annual meeting on the issue.

09 декабря, 10:37

«Победа Трампа — главная неудача Обамы как президента» Интервью Майкла Макфола о 44-м президенте США

20 января 2017 года станет последним днем работы действующего президента США Барака Обамы. В Белом доме его должен сменить Дональд Трамп — политический оппонент, который обещает отменить многие реформы и преобразования последних восьми лет. О достижениях и просчетах президентства Обамы, о его стиле управления страной и об отношении к победе Трампа журналист «Медузы» Константин Бенюмов поговорил с Майклом Макфолом — бывшим послом США в России, который до работы в Москве в течение пяти лет занимал должность советника Обамы и помощника президента по национальной безопасности.

08 декабря, 22:34

Trump Will Be Limited To A Smaller National Security Council Staff

WASHINGTON ― President-elect Donald Trump’s National Security Council will be limited to 200 staff members, the result of legislation arising from a sense that both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush before him had failed to keep the group’s size in check. The new limit was tucked into the 1,587-page National Defense Authorization Act, which is now on its way to Obama’s desk after passage by the Senate on Thursday. The House had approved it on Dec. 2. Trump’s transition team did not respond to a query about its view on the change. Lawmakers on both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees started looking for ways to rein in the size of the council two years ago, amid reports that Obama’s NSC had upward of 400 staffers. The administration said that estimate was overblown, but nevertheless began its own internal review. “To ensure the NSC staff is a lean, nimble, and policy-oriented organization, we are reversing the trend of growth across successive Administrations to align our staffing with our strategic priorities,” wrote NSC staff director Suzy George in a White House blog post in June 2015. “This is not about downsizing for its own sake; it’s about gradually right-sizing the NSC staff.” NSC spokesman Ned Price said the current staff level is already below 200 thanks to that work. “We have made good progress on this effort,” Price said. “Since we initiated the rightsizing review, the NSC staff has realized a 13 percent reduction, and has done so in a way that is aligned with national security requirements.” The new legislative mandate takes effect in 18 months and does not include support staff ― for example, people whose jobs entail maintaining equipment or meeting rooms. The NSC was created immediately after World War II as a way of coordinating the various intelligence and defense agencies. Through the years, though, the council has come to consolidate increasing power and taken on a greater decision-making role within the White House. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

08 декабря, 13:03

Obama officials alarmed at slow pace of agency-level transition

Despite rush of Cabinet appointments, Trump’s team lags in crucial, lower-profile work that will help launch his agenda.

08 декабря, 06:09

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 12/7/2016

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 12:24 P.M. EST MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Very calm in here.  Let’s see if we can keep it that way.  (Laughter.)  Josh, no pressure, but you’ll go first. Q    Thanks, Josh.  I wanted to start with a statement that President Obama and some of the Western leaders released this morning on Syria and the crisis in Aleppo.  And I was wondering if that statement was intended to signal support specifically for this five-day ceasefire that a number of Syrian rebel factions are calling for, or if the leaders were just referring more generally to the crisis and trying to call attention to it.  MR. EARNEST:  Josh, my understanding is they’re not seeking to show support for any one specific plan.  There are a variety of proposals that have been put forward that would reduce the violence sufficiently to allow innocent Syrians in Aleppo to get out of harm’s way, and for the consistent flow of humanitarian aid to commence, particularly to those regions of the country and to those areas of the city that have been under siege for a long time. So as you’d expect, Josh, these kinds of statements take some time to be negotiated through diplomatic channels, and so this isn't in response to one specific proposal that's been put forward, but rather demonstrating clear, unified international support for some kind of diplomatic arrangement that reduces the violence and allows the flow of humanitarian assistance to commence in a sustained way. Q    And the statement was very critical, even condemning, of Russia for its role in facilitating the continuation of violence through its actions at the U.N. and elsewhere.  And I'm wondering, given the fact that the U.S. is still talking with Russia about this -- I believe Secretary of State Kerry is meeting Lavrov even today in Germany -- what is the utility of continuing to try to work with Russia on that when we're, in the same breath, saying you guys are the problem, you're the reason that there is not progress on this? MR. EARNEST:  Well, Josh, I think the strategy is essentially to apply pressure to Russia because of the tactics that they have been willing to not just condone but, in some cases, actively support that have resulted in significant innocent loss of life.  And it's continuing.  And the President does not believe it's an effective strategy to gloss over or somehow obscure Russia’s complicity in this sordid affair in order to reach a solution.  In fact, we actually believe that Russia bears special responsibility to help bring about a diplomatic solution because of the way that it intervened on behalf of the Assad regime and because of their own stated significant national interest in the outcome of the situation inside of Syria. So we're not going to advance a diplomatic solution by somehow acting like Russia has been a good actor when they haven't, or pretending that Russia somehow doesn’t have a stake in the outcome when the truth is they’ve got as big a stake in the outcome as any other country outside of Syria.  So it's time for them to play a responsible role.  And thus far, they haven't. And that's isolated them in the international community.  It's what makes them the object of so much criticism and even scorn from the international community because of their willingness to support actively the depraved tactics of the Assad regime to try to bomb innocent civilians into submission. Q    Philippine President Duterte has given out a readout of his recent conversation with President-elect Trump and he says that Trump said basically, don't worry about U.S. concerns about your fight against drug criminals; go ahead, you're doing a good job.  How alarming is that to the U.S., given that what we're essentially talking about -- or what you’ve talked about from that podium is the killing of thousands of people without any kind of due process? MR. EARNEST:  Josh, I have no special knowledge of the telephone conversation between the President-elect and the President of the Philippine, so I can't be in a position to critique the view that's being expressed by the President-elect to the President of the Philippines. What I can do, however, is restate the position of this administration, the position of the current U.S. government, and that is simply that extrajudicial killings are entirely inconsistent with the notion of the rule of law and a commitment to upholding basic, universal human rights.  It’s plain and simple. There is a significant challenge facing the government of the Philippines to combat the drug trade in their country.  And it raises significant questions about their economy and about the security situation in the Philippines.  That is a legitimate problem that's worth confronting.  And, in fact, the United States has been supportive of previous efforts by the Philippines to confront the drug trade and try to limit, if not eradicate it. But President Duterte has certainly raised concerns about the degree to which his government is at least willing to look the other way while these kinds of extrajudicial killings are taking place and while vigilante justice is being meted out.  That's not going to solve the problem.  The President gave a long speech about this yesterday, about how it’s important that our efforts to advance the interests of the United States and provide for the security of the United States is enhanced when we do it consistent with our values.  That same principle applies to other countries, as well. The other principle that I think is at stake here is a little higher-level principle, but it’s an important one nonetheless.  One of the reasons that it’s important for us to invest in the durability and strength of our alliances is so that we can acknowledge publicly when we disagree.  It’s the sign of a strong relationship that we can acknowledge differences of opinion and encourage our closest friends around the world to live up to the values that our countries and our people prioritize.  It’s a sign of weakness in a relationship if you can't acknowledge differences of opinion.  That's true in interpersonal matters; it’s also true in international diplomacy.  And we don't agree with our allies on every issue.  And preserving the strength of those alliances and investing in the strength of those alliances allows us to, where appropriate, air those differences and not shy away from them.  And in this case, it’s important because the United States draws upon our adherence to these values because it contributes to our influence around the world.  Countries want to be allied with the United States because they recognize what it is that we stand for.  And when we stay true to those values, it only enhances our influence around the globe.  That makes us safer. And signaling a willingness to backtrack from those values is bad for our individual relationships, but it’s also bad for -- degrades our ability to exert our influence around the world. Q    And lastly, is the White House amenable to adding a provision in the short-term spending bill to essentially fast-track a waiver for General Mattis, given that the President is going to have to sign this bill to keep the government funded? MR. EARNEST:  Well, there are a couple of principles at play here, Josh.  The first is that President Obama has long made the argument that while the Senate does have some responsibility to confirm the President’s nominees -- to offer that advice and consent is a fundamental responsibility of the Senate -- at the same time, the President of the United States should be given a lot -- significant latitude to assemble his team.  In many instances, that courtesy was not extended to this President by Republicans in the Senate.  But the President believes that's an important principle.  And again, that is a principle that can be faithfully observed without eroding the constitutional responsibility of the United States Senate to offer their advice and consent. Second, when it comes to General Mattis, we're talking about somebody that President Obama knows.  General Mattis served as the commander of Central Command for two or three years while President Obama was in office.  He is somebody who served his country with distinction.  He’s a decorated Marine Corps veteran. But President Obama believes that -- well, the standard that we have tried to set is to not comment on, pass judgment on the individuals that the President-elect has put forward to serve in his Cabinet.  And I’m going to try to abide by that principle here. Q    This isn’t really about General Mattis and his own views on issues or anything.  It’s about the fact that he’s a general, and that in order for him to be confirmed there would have to be a waiver passed by Congress to permit that.  So it’s kind of a different principle. MR. EARNEST:  Yes, well, I think all these principles come into play, though.  And I certainly wouldn’t want any sort of commentary about this matter to be construed as some sort of implicit criticism of General Mattis -- for a variety of reasons, including he’s somebody who has served this country with distinction under Democratic and Republican Presidents, and he’s supported, based on the public comments I’ve seen, by both Democrats and Republicans that he’s interacted with in the context of his job. What I will say seems odd is that Senate Republicans feel the need to tuck this provision into a budget bill in order to advance it, instead of having this question of a waiver be considered on its merits.  So the kind of tactics and legislative strategy, to the extent there is one, that has regularly been applied by senators in the Congress is one that I’ve been mystified by in the past, so this is not exactly an unprecedented kind of situation.  But, in general, what I can say is that President Obama believes in the principle of the President being able to assemble a team.  He certainly believes in the principle that somebody like General Mattis is a decorated Marine, has demonstrated his patriotism and service to the country, has served this country with distinction, but ultimately the President-elect and the next Congress are going to have to determine how exactly to advance his nomination to the Senate.  Ayesha. Q    More on appointments.  Today, President-elect Trump told the “Today Show” that he has consulted President Obama about some of his appointments and that he takes the President’s recommendations very seriously, and also that I guess at least one of the appointments or some of the appointments were highly  -- or were liked by President Obama, according to President-elect Trump.  So I just wondered -- I know that you have declined to kind of talk about what the President thinks of all the appointments, but I guess what type of advice is the President giving to President-elect Trump?  Trump talked about it today.  So what type of advice is he giving him as he appoints his Cabinet?  And also can you speak even about this kind of burgeoning relationship?  I mean, at this point, Trump has repeatedly said that he likes President Obama and he thinks President Obama likes him, too.  So can you talk about this relationship?  (Laughter.)  MR. EARNEST:  This would probably make for an interesting episode of “Dr. Phil.”  (Laughter.)  Not that I’m giving them any programming ideas -- but they can take that one and run with it. Look, I know that the President-elect had an opportunity when he was asked in an interview to talk a little bit about his consultations with President Obama.  And he’s the President-elect of the United States, and he’s on the other end of the phone when the President is talking, so he’s got a little more latitude to do that than I do.  I’m going to, from here, in my role, going to protect the ability of the President of the United States to consult in private with the President-elect.  I’ve, on a number of occasions, confirmed that there have been at least a handful of conversations between the President and the President-elect, in addition to the Oval Office meeting that all of you observed, something that took place 36 hours after the votes were tallied on Election Day.  And after that meeting, the President-elect told all of you that it was his expectation the he would consult frequently with the President of the United States because he believed it would be helpful to him. And since that time, we've made clear that President Obama was not just a willing participant in those kinds of conversations but that he would welcome the opportunity to be as helpful as he possibly could to the incoming President. And that's what he has tried to do.  That's what we have tried to do as an administration in terms of ensuring a smooth and effective transition to the next administration.  But for the content of the conversations that are occurring between the two men, that's not something that I'm going to speak about from here. Q    So there’s no -- like you couldn't talk about maybe an overarching kind of guidance that he’s trying to give him when it comes to the Cabinet? MR. EARNEST:  Look, I think the way that I would describe it is consultation, and the President is responsive to requests and phone calls from the President-elect.  But beyond that, I just don't have any additional insight that I can share about the nature of the telephone conversations. Q    Going back to Aleppo, I just want to be clear.  Does the administration have a position on what the rebels should do? Should they withdraw from Aleppo?  I guess Syria and Russia have called for that, said they will not consider a ceasefire until the rebels leave Aleppo.  Does the U.S. have a position on that? MR. EARNEST:  The U.S. position is that the United Nations is working tirelessly to try to broker the kind of ceasefire in Aleppo that would allow for the significant flow of badly needed humanitarian assistance.  The opposition has agreed to the U.N. plan.  And we believe that the Syrians should, too.  We believe that the Russians should use their influence with the Assad regime to get them to agree to that plan.  But whether it's the U.N. plan or some other diplomatic negotiation that results in a reduction of violence and an increase in humanitarian assistance, that's what we're after.  And the chief obstacle to that goal has been the depraved military tactics of the Assad regime and the complicity of the Russians and Iranians.  And that's the position that we're trying to get them to change.  And it's a position that, thus far, has resulted in widespread bloodshed and a genuine human tragedy inside of Syria.  And the longer that the Syrian government and the Russians and Iranians resist this potential solution, the more conflict and more violence and more bloodshed and more tragedy will occur. Michelle. Q    Just to clear up some of these things that have been said on both sides of these phone calls between the President and President-elect -- does the President enjoy these phone calls?  MR. EARNEST:  The President is pleased that he can play a role in ensuring a smooth and effective transition.  And that's something that he has identified as a very high priority, particularly for his last several weeks in office here.  So he’s certainly pleased that he can offer advice and assistance that may be useful to the incoming administration. Q    And now that President-elect Trump has been pretty detailed in his description and he, just today, as Ayesha was saying, he said that he really does like -- that he loves getting his ideas.  Can it at least be said -- does the President like Donald Trump?  Does he like talking to him as a person? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, for the President’s personal feelings you should just talk to the President about that.  And it's important that -- we'll do another news conference here and maybe somebody will choose to ask.  But I can't speak to their personal relationship.  What I can speak to is the President’s ongoing commitment to coordinating effectively with the President-elect’s team and the President-elect personally to ensure a smooth and effective transition.  And that's included not just in the Oval Office meeting 36 hours after the votes were tallied, but it’s also included additional telephone calls between the two men and a variety of meetings at a variety of levels at agencies all across the federal government to give the incoming administration the best opportunity to get off to a running start. Q    Since the last time we asked you about these phone calls -- and you mentioned that there had been a handful -- have there been any more between then and now? MR. EARNEST:  I don't remember exactly the last time that I was asked, so I can't confirm any additional calls at this point. Q    One thing you have spoken to a number of times both before and after the election are what you call the deep concerns that the President has going forward with this new administration.  So is it safe to say that the President still has concerns about some of the picks that Trump has made? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don't have a -- we're not going to take a position on individual nominees that are put forward by the President-elect.  I think what those deep concerns often referred to were some of the rhetoric and policy positions that were advocated by Mr. Trump when he was running for President.  But elections have consequences.  And while those concerns have not gone away, the election is over, and the institutional responsibility of the President and everybody who works for him is to focus on putting our political differences and our political opinions aside and fulfilling the duties that the American people have entrusted us with, which is to serve the public and to give the choice of the American voters the opportunity to succeed in the years ahead. Q    So the numerous concerns that both the President and you listed haven't been assuaged at all by anything you’ve seen since the election? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I think it's too early to judge.  And people all across the country will have the opportunity to do exactly that.  And, look, President-elect Trump ran for office advocating a much different approach to running the country than the one that President Obama has pursued over the last eight years.  He said he wanted to do things differently and he found a variety of very colorful ways to make that quite clear to everybody who was walking into the voting booth.  And the outcome of the election is such that Secretary Clinton got 2.5 million more votes, but President-elect Trump won the election.  He won the Electoral College.  He will be the next President of the United States.  And the American people will have an opportunity to see whether or not the different kind of approach that he’s advocating actually yields better results. So we certainly want people to understand exactly what kind of progress this country was able to make under the leadership of President Obama, to persuade them of the wisdom of that approach so that they’ll be able to evaluate it against the kind of changed approach that President-elect Trump is vowing to pursue. Q    Over the last couple of days we’ve heard some pretty heavy criticism of certain of Donald Trump’s picks.  And I know you don't want to get into individual assessments or anything, and I'm not asking for that.  But when you talk about concerns that are still there, do those include the people that he’s choosing to be around him? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don't want to signal a position one way or the other on some of --on any of the President-elect’s personnel decisions.  I think the obvious thing that I would be willing to say is that President-elect Trump is choosing people with different views and different styles than the kinds of people that President Obama chose.  And the American people were very well served by the service of people like Secretary Burwell, who has effectively implemented the Affordable Care Act; or Secretary McDonald, who has implemented a series of reforms and reduced the backlog at the VA, and expanded and improved the delivery of benefits being provided to our veterans; or there are people like Secretary Carter, who has undertaken significant efforts to strengthen our military and making sure that we're making smart planning decisions so that the future of the U.S. military is effectively adapted to the challenges that we may face moving forward.  So, look, I could cite examples all across the administration, not just at the Cabinet level, but also at the White House.  The kinds of people that President-elect Trump has chosen appear to have, in many cases, different priorities, different styles and, in some cases, starkly different bank accounts.  (Laughter.)  But the President-elect should benefit from the latitude -- significant latitude to choose his team. Q    -- a little contrast there? MR. EARNEST:  Yes, I think I am.  (Laughter.)  I do think that over -- look, at the end of eight years, we will have a variety of benchmarks and metrics to evaluate how the United States of America benefitted from the priorities, agenda, and leadership style of President Obama.  And there will be a very clear opportunity for all of you, in particular, to evaluate whether or not the kinds of changes that President-elect Trump puts in place benefit the country.  And that's an open question, but it’s an experiment that the American people in all their wisdom have chosen to conduct. Q    Are you saying their bank account affects someone’s capability? MR. EARNEST:  Not at all.  I think it -- I don't think it would actually have much of an impact at all on anybody’s ability to serve the country.  Q    Why did you say it then? MR. EARNEST:  Mostly to be funny.  (Laughter.)  And it got a couple of chuckles. Q    Thanks for spelling that out.  (Laughter.)  MR. EARNEST:  I guess that goes to that old adage, though, if you have to explain the joke, it wasn’t that funny.  (Laughter.)  So maybe it wasn’t. Cheryl. Q    Okay, the CR.  MR. EARNEST:  Yes. Q    Yes, it came out last night -- April 28th, a lot of riders, but a lot of funding.  Will the President sign it? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I can tell you that the President and his team were up late last night -- I don't know if the President was up late last night reviewing the bill, but the President’s team, the experts at the OMB and other agencies that are trying to understand the consequences of some of the proposals that are included in the CR have been carefully analyzing that.       I’m not ready to render a judgment one way or the other on the proposal.  But I can tell you that we continue to review the legislation and are looking at the finer points to make sure we understand exactly what impact the passage of the bill would have on funding the U.S. government. Q    Do you believe that we can avoid a government shutdown in two days?  Is there enough time to pass this CR? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I’m certainly no expert on legislative procedure and as I’ve observed on many other occasions, even simple things have posed a significant challenge to this Republican-led Congress, so I’m not making any predictions.  I certainly hope we’ll be able to avoid a government shutdown.  I can't envision a scenario in which the U.S. economy or the American people somehow benefit from a government shutdown.  So hopefully that's something we’ll be able to avoid. What it will require is something that it’s required the last couple of years, which is compromise.  And that is another thing that Republicans in Congress have not demonstrated much of an ability to do.  But it will be required in this instance.  It’s going to require bipartisan compromise for this bill to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by a Democratic President.  The President is willing to compromise.  He doesn't expect that every element of the CR should be something that he wholeheartedly supports.  He recognizes that this will be a compromise.  But we're taking a look at the bill to understand exactly what sort of compromise will be required, and we’ll let you know as soon as we can about the final conclusion that's been reached. Q    Do you expect to have a judgment today on that? MR. EARNEST:  I don't know how much progress they've been able to make on it today, but we’ll keep you posted. Ron. Q    Anything on the General Flynn-Ambassador Rice meeting? MR. EARNEST:  I don't have anything on that.  I know that there have been some reports about Ambassador Rice meeting with the individual that the President-elect designated to succeed her in the fancy corner office in the West Wing.   What I can tell you is that, more generally, the National Security Council, under the leadership of Dr. Rice, has spent months preparing materials, assembling briefing books, compiling information to ensure a smooth and effective transition into the next administration.  So I’m not in a position to confirm any individual meetings that have taken place, but I can tell you that there have been a variety of meetings that have already occurred that are focused on achieving that goal. And when we're talking about the National Security Council, we're talking about the organization that is responsible for managing a range of very sensitive issues.  So a lot of close coordination and consultation will be required to ensure a smooth handoff here.  And we're certainly committed -- and I know that Dr. Rice is personally committed -- to ensuring that we're going to do everything that's required to make that happen. Q    The statement on Syria by the six nations, how was that initiated?  Was that something that the President initiated?  Or who?  I’m not sure, you may have answered that.  But I -- MR. EARNEST:  Yes, I’m not aware that there was any individual presidential-level conversation about this.  But obviously the President has had a number of conversations with some of the world leaders who signed on to this statement about the situation in Syria.  Q    I ask because you've always emphasized how the President is trying to use every diplomatic means available to him to effect a more positive situation there.  So this doesn't fall into that category?  MR. EARNEST:  Well, no -- look, the President has worked assiduously to mobilize the international community to respond to the situation inside of Syria, and there were a number of conversations that President Obama has had with the leaders of these countries who signed on to the statement in a variety of settings.  And this has been a long-running effort. And, look, I think this is a good example of how U.S. leadership is important in the international community and is effective in advancing our interests.  It doesn't benefit the United States of America for there to be continued chaos inside of Syria.  And President Obama continues to rally the international community both through our counter-ISIL coalition, but also through diplomacy like this to try to find the kind of diplomatic solution that will bring an end to the violence inside of Syria that will expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance, but also make the world safer for the American people. Q    In an interview -- in a tease about an interview that the President did on CNN -- I believe it was about ISIS -- he said something to the effect that ISIS’s ability to launch a major land offensive “was not on my radar.”  Have you heard that? MR. EARNEST:  I think this may be the CNN documentary that's running later today.  Q    So the statement, again, ISIS’s ability to launch a major land offensive was not on my radar -- does that suggest a huge failure on the part of the administration to see this threat coming? MR. EARNEST:  Maybe you're making a reference to an event that's not coming to mind here.  What are you referring to here? Q    The President’s statement in this interview where he said, ISIS’s ability to launch a major land offensive was not on my radar. MR. EARNEST:  So you're talking about in Iraq in 2014? Q    Exactly.  MR. EARNEST:  Okay.  I thought this was a reference to the President’s speech yesterday.  But now I see what you're trying to talk about.  Look, I think this may be a situation where let’s take a look at the President’s -- the entire context of the President’s remarks.  I think we've talked a lot about how the Iraqi security forces did not perform at a level that we expected them to, even in the face of this threat from ISIL.  And that's something that I know that I’ve talked about from here, and something the President has talked about before.  But we’ll take a closer look at the President’s comments when they air in full tonight. Q    He seemed to suggest an intelligence failure -- or admit one -- on the part of the United States -- not necessarily a failure by the Iraqis, a failure on the American side to see this coming.  Lastly, what does the President think of Joe Biden in 2020? MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t asked him about it.  I think that as the Vice President was answering the question, I think that he -- well, I didn't talk to the Vice President about it either, so -- Q    You couldn't think of anything funny to say?  (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST:  Well, not for the first time in my life and certainly not for the first time in the context of this job. I’ll let the Vice President’s comment stand.  And if he chooses to further clarify them, then he’ll do that himself, or I’ll have a conversation with him and see if I can bring some greater clarity. Margaret, nice to see you. Q    Nice to see you.  The President, yesterday in his remarks, talked about Guantanamo -- hundreds of millions’ expense to keep 59 guys there, a blot on our national conscience.  But he stopped short of saying that he’s actually going to shut the place down before he leaves.  Was this a final sort of coming to terms with the fact that the prison is going to stay open after he leaves office? MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, we have been deeply dismayed at the obstacles that Congress has erected to prevent progress on this significant national security priority.  Democratic and Republican national security experts strongly support the President’s position that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would save taxpayer dollars and make the country safer.  A variety of military leaders have reached that conclusion.  Even President George W. Bush, who has different views on foreign policy than President Obama in most areas, but in this area, he agrees that the prison should be closed. So there’s strong bipartisan agreement among those who have dedicated their lives to protecting the country that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed, and the American people would benefit from it. But this is a political situation that members of Congress in both parties, to be fair, have allowed to persist that prevents this kind of common-sense policy from being implemented. That's been deeply disappointing to the President.  And we're going to continue to do everything we can between now and the President’s departure to reduce the prison population at Gitmo. And there’s a strategy that we have initiated that includes the individual review of these prisoners to determine the wisdom of transferring them overseas.  And when this interagency panel determines that an individual, under the right restrictions, can be safely transferred to another country, we're doing the important diplomatic work of finding another country who will take them. And since President Obama has been in office, there are about 175 Gitmo detainees that have been transferred under these conditions.  And that's been good for the country.  But Congress has repeatedly thrown up obstacles that prevent the successful closing of the prison. Q    That wasn’t admitting defeat? MR. EARNEST:  Well, the President has been deeply disappointed by how Congress has refused to fulfill their basic responsibility to save taxpayer dollars, or at least spend their money judiciously, and enhance the national security of the United States.  On both metrics, with regard to this policy, Congress has fallen down on the job.  And that's been a source of significant frustration that we've expressed from time to time over the last eight years.  Q    You talked about some of the national security officials who support closure.  One of them who clearly did not is the man who looks to be the new Department of Homeland Security chief, General Kelly, who has argued that Guantanamo is not only operated well, but that it has a place in our national security framework, and prisoners should be there.  So is the President disappointed to see that the President-elect is putting someone into this position who is on record saying no one is innocent at Gitmo and that it should stay open? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I want to be real clear about our position about the need to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay should not be viewed by anybody as an attempt to impugn or criticize the service of our men and women in uniform who are operating that prison.  That's difficult work.  And so I don't want this policy position to be portrayed by somebody as a criticism of our men and women in uniform. With respect to General Kelly’s comments, I’m going to reserve comment on anybody that President-elect Trump has put forward for a senior Cabinet-level position.  Obviously, as I alluded to earlier, many of them have positions that are different than positions that this administration has prioritized.  And that's not particularly surprising given the outcome of the election.  But I don't have a specific reaction to General Kelly’s stated position on this issue. Q    A question on Syria, to come back to it? MR. EARNEST:  Sure. Q    In the language of the statement you released this morning, you seem to be suggesting something like sanctions.  You said “restrictive measures on entities and individuals are being considered”.  You've got sanctions on Russia, sanctions on Iran, sanctions on the Assad regime.  These are all punitive.  They are clearly not prohibitive.  They've done absolutely nothing to stop the violence in Aleppo or in Syria.  So is this kind of rhetoric the extent of the action the United States and the world powers are going to take right now? MR. EARNEST:  Well, the extent of the action that we are taking is, first and foremost, military action against ISIL terrorists and other extremists inside of Syria that are trying to capitalize on the chaos to plot and execute attacks against the United States and the West.  And so -- Q    Well, the statement was about that 200,000 civilians and children are being denied medicine and food.  That's what you're statement was about.  MR. EARNEST:  That was what the statement was about.  But people should not be confused about the totality of U.S. action to protect the American people and advance our interests around the world, including in Syria.  And our actions in Syria have taken ISIL leaders off the battlefield.  They've taken other extremists off the battlefield, including extremists who are plotting and planning to carry out attacks against the United States and our allies in the West. And so there is a lot of focus on the situation in Aleppo, and there should be.  In fact, there probably should be more.  But we should not allow the tragedy in Aleppo to obscure the important work that's being done by the United States military and our 67 coalition partners to take the fight to ISIL, to increase pressure on extremists, and to enhance the national security of the United States.  With regard to Aleppo, our efforts don't just include negotiations among Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the U.K.  They also include supporting a U.N.-led effort to try to facilitate a diplomatic agreement.  And they also include extensive repeated discussions with the Russians to try to bring them to the negotiating table so that they use their influence with the Assad regime to get us closer to an agreement.  But the Russians have been resistant to doing that.  And that's what’s allowed this tragedy to continue.  But ultimately, the United States is playing a leading role in the international community -- to organize the international community to apply pressure to Russia, Iran and Syria to bring them to the negotiating table.  They’re going to have to be a part of any negotiated solution.  And that's what we're trying to bring about. Q    Respectfully, the international community efforts -- five or six U.N. resolutions have been killed so far, all the diplomatic talks have failed.  So that's why the question -- MR. EARNEST:  The reason why we're still working on it is because we haven't gotten the results we’d like to see yet. Q    But it's just rhetoric, it's just words at this point. And there’s an immediate crisis.  I mean, Kerry is talking to Lavrov today.  He’s going to Paris this weekend.  But in the meantime, there are people very much in crisis, which is what your statement is about.  So is the statement the extent of immediate action? MR. EARNEST:  No.  There’s a meeting with Russia that Secretary Kerry is planning later this week.  There are continued efforts at the U.N. to apply diplomatic pressure to the situation.  There are continued talks that are being led by the U.N. to try to facilitate a diplomatic agreement.  If there were an obvious or simple military solution, it's certainly possible that the United States and our allies, or at least our partners in the counter-ISIL coalition, would have considered it by now.  But we have said from the beginning, from day one, that the ultimate solution here is a diplomatic one.  And diplomacy is hard.  And Russia, in particular, has been resistant to engaging constructively in pursuit of that negotiated solution.  And we've been profoundly disappointed by that, and lives have been lost as a result of that.  There’s no denying that.  But it's certainly not for any sort of lack of effort or lack of action on the part of the United States.  And we continue to mobilize and lead the international community both to look after the national security interests of the United States but also to try to bring this human tragedy to an end. Q    What are the restrictive measures that you're talking about in the statement? MR. EARNEST:  Well, there are a variety of things that have been considered, including the kinds of financial penalties that the United States has been able to apply in coordination with our allies in a variety of situations.  And I certainly wouldn't rule out something like that in the future, but I would also acknowledge that we haven't seen those sorts of sanctions bring about the entirety of the change in strategy that we’d like to see. Kevin. Q    Thanks, Josh.  Is the President aware of the declared mistrial in the case of the South Carolina officer that killed Walter Scott?  What’s his reaction to that? MR. EARNEST:  He is aware of that, Kevin, and the reason I can't offer you a reaction is that the police officer in question is facing civil rights charges that were brought by the Department of Justice.  So there is an ongoing legal proceeding, and I wouldn't want to say something or comment on this situation in a way that could have an impact on that legal proceeding. So the Department of Justice is going to continue to do their work, and that is work that they have done independent of any sort of direction or opinion that has been shared by the President of the United States. Q    Any idea if the President might accelerate the number of commutations between now and the end of his administration?  The New York Times had a fairly interesting piece, in one part lauding him for doing something on criminal justice reform that he was not able to do broadly, and yet they also point out that there are thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of people that might be candidates for that sort of special consideration. MR. EARNEST:  Kevin, when the President was asked about this question back in August at the Pentagon, he made clear that there is a process that the Department of Justice is administering to consider individually the applications for clemency that have been submitted, and the President does not envision circumventing that process.  His expectation, and what we have tried to do particularly over the last year or 18 months, has been to turbocharge that process, to offer more resources to that process, so that it can function more efficiently, and to consider more applications.  But I do not envision a scenario in which that process is somehow shortened or that we cut corners in that process so that more individuals can benefit from this clemency.  The President believes that rigor being applied to that process benefits the American people and benefits those who are given this special opportunity for a second chance. Q    I know I've asked you previously about the President’s comments about Pearl Harbor Day, and I know that there’s something scheduled for later in the month.  I'm just curious, how is he spending this particular Pearl Harbor Day?  Is he reaching out to any veterans or doing anything in particular today? MR. EARNEST:  I'm not aware of any specific actions on the part of the President, but obviously he had an opportunity on Veterans Day, less than a month ago, to travel to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and to restate once again the profound debt that we owe to military veterans of all generations, including the Greatest Generation.  And this was a generation that was summoned to action based on the tragic attack perpetrated by the Japanese 75 years ago today.  And I think all of us, including the President, have thoughts of deep gratitude for the sacrifice and service of the Greatest Generation of Americans. And the President himself has talked quite a bit about his grandfather who served, I believe it was in the United States Army, in World War II in the European theater.  And that's his own personal connection to that generation.  And I think all of us, to one extent or another, even though many of them are no longer living, have our own connection to those who served and to those who fought and even those who died in ensuring that tyranny was defeated in World War II. Q    Last thing, I wanted to ask you about welfare reform.  House Republicans are said to be considering laying the groundwork for a fresh effort to overhaul the food stamp program and coming up with different work and eligibility requirements.  And I ask you that in part because I remember previously this month you talked about the steep decline in the rate of poverty growth in America.  And so I'm wondering if the White House feels like now is a good time for a fresh look at SNAP. MR. EARNEST:  Well, I haven't seen the individual proposals that have been put forward by Republicans, so I don't know if I can comment on those specifically.  But obviously, there was a government report earlier this year that indicated that poverty in 2015 fell faster in that year than in any year since the 1960s.  I think it might be one indication that the anti-poverty economic strategy that President Obama has pursued worked pretty well.  And that is true when you consider how significantly poverty has been reduced over the last year.  It's also true when you consider how significantly wages for working people have gone up -- the highest on record that same report showed.  And wage growth was actually higher for lower- and middle-income families than it was for those at the top.  So it's not just that we're reducing poverty; we're actually making some progress in reducing inequality as well. I think it's a pretty good indication that the kind of strategy that we've implemented has worked.  And if Republicans want to implement a new strategy, we'll see what impact it has.  This sort of goes back to what I was saying to Michelle.  If Republicans want to try a different approach, we'll have an opportunity to see if it works.  We'll have an opportunity to see -- if by making some of these changes Republicans can further reduce the poverty rate beyond the historic success that we’ve had in reducing the poverty rate, we'll have an opportunity to tell. I'm skeptical that they’ll succeed in doing that, but the American people have given them the opportunity to try. Q    By the measure of success you're saying that it's gone better under the President’s program and the poverty rate is not rising at a faster rate -- certainly slower rate than it has in half a century.  And I just wanted to throw a couple numbers at you.  SNAP apparently serves about 44 million people at the cost of $74 billion.  Those are 2015 numbers, but that's up significantly since 2008.  So I'm just curious if it's going better -- based on your own assessment -- is it now a good time to maybe take a fresh look at programs like these? MR. EARNEST:  Well, the President actually in his -- back in January, the President delivered his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, and one area that he identified in that speech was an opportunity to work in bipartisan fashion with Democrats and Republicans on a proposal that Speaker Ryan himself had long advocated, and that was essentially the expansion of tax cuts for low-income workers that don't have kids.  Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House didn’t take him up on that opportunity for cooperation.  So I'm not suggesting that somehow there aren't further improvements that could be made.  In fact, President Obama has offered his support for some of the ideas that Republicans have put forward to do that.  I don't think that SNAP falls in that category, but I can't speak at length about the proposal just because I haven't seen it. But there certainly are areas where President Obama would -- has already indicated his strong support for some of these proposals that he believes would have a beneficial impact on the economy and would further reduce inequality in this country. April. Q    Josh, I want to ask a couple of questions.  First -- and I want to go back to the Trump thing and the phone calls -- how many times has President Obama spoken by phone with President-elect Donald Trump? MR. EARNEST:  We played this game a couple times over the last couple of weeks -- Q    It’s not a game, I’m asking a real question, though. MR. EARNEST:  I didn’t say it wasn’t a real question.  What I’m telling you is I’m not going to get into the details of reading out individual phone calls.  So they’ve spoken several times since their face-to-face Oval Office meeting just after the election, but I don’t have a specific number to give you. Q    Okay, well, it’s more than twice.  We know that.  Maybe three or four now? Q    I think he said “a handful” last time. MR. EARNEST:  So I did say “a handful” last time.  I’m saying “several” this time. Q    Two handfuls?  (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST:  I’m being intentionally ambiguous. Q    We know it’s at least two times.  Maybe three, four?  (Laughter.) MR. EARNEST:  April, I would suggest that maybe we pursue a more fruitful line of questioning, respectfully. Q    Respectfully.  All right, well, now, on Donald Trump and his comments this morning about how President Obama is a likable sort -- if, indeed, these two would have talked, do you believe -- earlier -- that some of this division, some of these, the thought process and some of the words may not have been used to cause the divide that continues right now in this nation?  Do you believe if they had talked prior to the elections that we would not be seeing the efforts to come together because of the comments that were made? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, it’s difficult to answer counterfactuals because nobody really knows.  I think the one thing we do know is that Republicans laid out a very clear strategy on the day that President Obama was inaugurated the very first time, which is to block and obstruct every single thing that he tried to do and to, as much as they could, to try to delegitimize his presidency.  That was the strategy that was pursued by Republicans, and they did not succeed in limiting President Obama to one term.  In fact, President Obama was not just elected once, but twice, with a strong majority of the American electorate.  And that gave him a mandate to go and pursue an agenda that has benefited the American people.  And that’s everything from strengthening our economy, preventing a second Great Depression, rescuing the American auto industry, to reforming our health care system in a way that ensures every American has access to quality, affordable health insurance and can’t be discriminated against because they have a preexisting condition.  It also gave him a mandate to go and advance our interests around the world, to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon by working through diplomacy and not firing a single shot, but actually confronting what most people, including some of our closest allies, had identified as the greatest national security threat that the world was facing. I could obviously go on at some length, and I’ll stop.  But the fact is President Obama has repeatedly sought to work with Republicans, but that ran counter to the political strategy that Republicans laid out to try to block him at every turn and to refuse to cooperate with him even on things they supported.  And the country did not benefit from that.  But this was a political strategy that has yielded some political benefits for Republicans.  And a lot of that is what led to the election of Mr. Trump.  But that will be something for historians and others to carefully consider. What I think the President’s hope is that what all of you consider as you report on the next administration is to evaluate what impact their changes are having, particularly when you consider the strong trajectory that the country currently enjoys. Q    On your thoughts about Rahm Emanuel in Trump Tower? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, there are a number of Democrats that have accepted an invitation from the President-elect to meet with him, and it certainly makes sense that the mayor of the third-largest city in the country might want to have a conversation with the President of the United States. Q    And lastly, going back to what Kevin said about -- more so about the area and what happened -- Charleston, North Charleston area.  It was in the news last year.  It caused a lot of change in the mind and in the heart and on so many levels -- President Obama, weeks after what happened to Walter Scott, President Obama was there.  He preached a sermon for the nine that died in Mother Emanuel church.  And now Dylann Roof is -- the jury has been seated in this trial.  What does the President say, looking back a year to today, after what happened?  And I understand that you can’t say much on the issue that is going to the federal piece.  But what does he say about the area and how it made a mark in this nation from that time to today? MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, I can’t talk about the individual cases for the reasons that you cited, but I think both of these cases, just gauging by the news media interest, have captured the attention of people all across the country.  And I think all of this debate and examination can sometimes be painful, but ultimately that’s the kind of examination and debate that will be required to move the country forward.  And the President gave a powerful speech -- a sermon at a memorial service in Charleston about 18 months ago, and that certainly captured the attention of the American people as well. And to the extent that the President was able to contribute to a healthy examination of some of these issues and a healthy debate and discussion and dialogue in this country, he’s pleased with that. One example, one manifestation of that is the way that a lot of people reconsidered their view of the confederate flag in light of these issues, in terms of what it symbolizes.  That was a healthy thing for that country.  But this is going to be part of process.  And there’s not just going to be one event, or one landmark jury decision, or one heart-wrenching tragedy that’s going to solve all these problems. This is going to be a process.  And it’s going to be a process that the President hopes the country can pursue together -- that the more that we can remember that the differences that unite are more powerful and more influential and more numerous than the things that divide us, that will certainly benefit us as we make our way down this path. Q    And the last question.  You say it’s going to be a process, and as we go through this transition, I’m thinking about that process that you said and what the President said in that sermon that he delivered for Reverend Pinckney.  He talked about “amazing grace,” and he kept talking about grace.  Is it about grace, or is it more so about heart, or is it about legislation as we deal with the newness of life for the next couple of months? MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I think more grace in our public discourse in every area, not just when it comes to national politics, I think is something that the entire country and all of our citizens would benefit from. Kenneth. Q    Thanks, Josh.  Going back to Rahm Emanuel at Trump Tower today, we know that he urged the President-elect not to deport DREAMers -- of course, hundreds of young people -- or people who were brought here as children who were covered under the President’s DACA program.  Even in the past hour, there have been some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill who said they were encouraged by the President-elect’s remarks, and people -- I think he said that we have to look at this and take a look at something that will work and that the American people would be proud, according to his words.  So is the White House -- this White House -- encouraged by those words as well? MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, the President has been crystal-clear, both in words and in deeds, about his view that young people who are American in every way but their papers shouldn’t be deported, shouldn’t be ripped away from family members, when the truth is that they came to the United States through no fault of their own. A policy of deporting them would be inconsistent with our values and one that would be a setback for the country, particularly when you consider the remarkable contribution that many of those young people have already made to our country, whether it’s by starting a business, or signing up to serve in our military, or otherwise living as upstanding members of communities all across the country.  So I can’t speak to what policy the next administration intends to pursue.  I think the perspective and values that I’ve just given voice to are the kinds of values that enjoy strong bipartisan support not just in Washington and not just in Congress but all across the country.  And hopefully Democrats and Republicans will be able to find a way to deal with this situation in a way that’s consistent with our values, in a way that’s consistent with our laws.  And if they do, the country stands to benefit not just from a national security perspective, not just from a quality of life perspective, but also from an economic perspective as well. Q   I'm sure you would agree, there are a number of people -- undocumented immigrants and people who are covered under the President’s executive actions who want to know what is this White House doing?  You say you don’t know what the next one is going to do, but we want to know what is this White House doing to have an impact and maybe even change some minds or policies from the incoming President? MR. EARNEST:  Well, the thing that we certainly have done is we have taken quite seriously the transition process to ensure that the incoming administration understands MR. EARNEST:  Well, the thing that we certainly have done is we have taken quite seriously the transition process to ensure that the incoming administration understands what policies we've pursued and why we've pursued them, and what impact it has had across the country.  But ultimately, the next President will take office on January 20th.  And his policies that will be implemented. Q    Finally, can you confirm a report that the First Lady held a good-bye party for White House staff and brought everyone to tears at a local pizza restaurant?  I know there’s a lot of good-byes happening over the next few weeks, or 44 days left.  Can you confirm that?  And were staff -- were they moved to tears?  Were you one of them? MR. EARNEST:  I was on the President’s trip to Florida yesterday, so I did not participate in an event like that.  But let me see if I can get you some more information about it, okay? Toluse.  Q    Thank you, Josh.  Is it still the position of this administration that Assad must go?  I know the President said that a few years ago.  But does that stand? MR. EARNEST:  That continues to be the policy of the administration.  And again, it’s not just because he stands in the way of a solution -- a diplomatic solution, although he does. And it’s not just that we are so offended morally by his willingness to use the military might of his country against innocent civilians.  There’s also a practical consideration, which is that he has waged war on a substantial number of citizens in his country; his country has been torn apart; he has made it clear that he is unable to lead that country.  And in order for us to find the kind of political solution that will bring that violence and chaos to an end, he can't continue to serve as President of that country.  And that's been our policy for years.  And it continues to be our policy today. Q    In the statement today, the five or six countries said that there must not be impunity for those responsible.  Is that statement specific to Assad?  And do you believe that he should face war crime challenges for what he’s done? MR. EARNEST:  That statement is an indication that there must be accountability, particularly with regard to the kinds of depraved tactics that have been used by the regime against innocent civilians.  Accountability in these situations is necessary and consistent with our values as a country. Q    Let me ask you about the Cabinet that's being formed -- not specifically about specific picks, but the fact that there seem to be a large number of generals who have been chosen or who are being interviewed -- the Department of Defense, NSA, now the Department of Homeland Security, and potentially the State Department.  Does the White House have any thoughts about the fact that Donald Trump seems to be potentially choosing a Cabinet that's very heavy on retired military? MR. EARNEST:  No, just because I don't want to be in a position of criticizing or being -- even appearing to criticize decisions being made by the President-elect. What I’ll say is that the President spoke as recently as yesterday about the values and leadership qualities that are exhibited by the men and women of the United States military.  And many of the people that President-elect Trump has put forward are people that have served this country in the military with distinction.  And that is -- even where political differences exist, that service and that commitment to sacrificing for the country are worthy of respect.  The President certainly has exhibited that respect.  I certainly tried to exhibit that respect. But ultimately, what qualifications and criteria the President-elect wants to use in choosing his Cabinet is something that I’ll let him decide.  Q    Secretary Hillary Clinton is going to be on Capitol Hill for the unveiling of Harry Reid’s portrait tomorrow.  Is there any chance that President Obama will meet her, speak to her tomorrow?  MR. EARNEST:   I’m not aware that they’ll meet, but we’ll keep you posted.  I don't think I can commit at this point to announcing that meeting if it does occur.  But let me see if I can get you guidance.  Q    Thanks, Josh.  MR. EARNEST:  John. Q    Thanks a lot, Josh.  Since the presidential election four weeks ago, the President has nominated numerous individuals to government boards such as the Surface Transportation Board, Legal Services Corporation, the Kennedy Center Board.  Is it the President’s expectation that the lame duck Senate will take up these nomination up or down? MR. EARNEST:  Well, John, I actually don't know to what extent the individuals that you have named actually require Senate confirmation.  But we can certainly have somebody take a look at that for you. Q    Is there an agreement with the Senate Majority Leader that the lame duck Senate will take up various nominations that require Senate confirmation? MR. EARNEST:  I don't know what sort of agreements, if any, have been reached with Senate Republicans. JC. Q    We had discussed the benefits of, in a sense, living above the store for the President, the immediacy to a crisis situation where he can meet in the Situation Room with his Joint Chiefs, his security team, members of Congress, et cetera.  And the fact that Donald Trump has been choosing to stay -- at least for now -- at Trump Tower, and possibly maybe the first bi-city President, so to speak -- what in a sense -- now that we have a price tag, it’s literally costing the American taxpayer and the New York City taxpayer in excess of $3 million a day to keep Mr. Trump safe in the tower.  Do you have any additional thoughts about that?  I know you made a comment about wherever the President goes, his security team is close by. MR. EARNEST:  That's right.  Look, over the years I have been in a variety of situations, in a variety of settings where I have fielded questions about criticism from Republicans with regard to the President’s travel, and I’m not going to give into the temptation to do the same thing to the President-elect. Mark Knoller, you had your hand up earlier.  I’ll give you the last one if you still have a question. Q    You bet I do.  MR. EARNEST:  Okay. Q    I wanted to ask you to clarify your answer earlier about the waiver for the Defense Secretary.  Were you saying the President would not sign a waiver if it reached his desk, that he’d prefer it happen during the new administration? MR. EARNEST:  No, I think what I’m saying is the short answer to your question is, no, I was not signaling an unwillingness on the part of the President to sign a bill containing such a waiver.  I think the observation that I was making is that it seems odd that congressional Republicans would be choosing to sneak a provision in a budget bill to expedite the confirmation of somebody who is a decorated Marine Corps officer, somebody who has served Presidents in both parties, somebody who Democrats and Republicans have spoken warmly of.  So I can't really explain it. I’m not indicating that the administration will refuse to cooperate with them.  In fact, the principle that I was giving voice to earlier was the idea that Presidents should be given some latitude to choose the people that they want to have on their team.  The President was not extended that courtesy consistently by Republicans in the Senate, but it’s a principle that the President believes in not just since he’s coming in the door, but on his way out the door.  And it’s one that we’ll -- that he believes in. So, hopefully -- did that clarify -- Q    You're saying a standalone bill on the waiver is the way to go? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I guess I find it strange that Republicans in Congress seem to be taking an unconventional step to avoid the straightforward consideration of this waiver purely on its merits and on the merits of General Mattis’s service to the country.  So I think it’s a question that I’m raising that I think is worth asking.  But it’s one that only congressional Republicans can answer. Q    And I wanted to ask about what the President said yesterday, that it was the last time he was going to hear “Hail to the Chief” on the road.  What does that tell us about travel between now and January 20th? MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think it’s an indication that the President’s travel between now and January 20th is likely to be limited, at least with respect to official events.  The President does still intend to travel to Hawaii to spend time with his family there over the holidays. All right?  Thanks, everybody.  We’ll see you tomorrow. END 1:37 P.M. EST

08 декабря, 04:50

As the World Frets over the Taiwan Call, Trump's Talk with Kazakhstan Might Be the Real Shocker

Bill Cowan Security, Eurasia A U.S. partnership with Kazakhstan can keep Chinese and Russian ambitions in check. The November 30 telephone call between President-elect Donald J. Trump and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan was a shocker, first because such a call took a place at all and second because the topics discussed were wide-ranging and extended to U.S. relations with Russia. The tone of the conversation was unusually warm. The call from a newly elected president to a long-standing one made geopolitical sense as the incoming administration concentrates on building relationships with key countries in key regions. Kazakhstan is in the heart of Eurasia, bordering both Russia and China: the two main headaches of American foreign policy. Indeed, faced with growing Chinese and Russian global influence emboldened by eight years of President Obama’s foreign policy, a newly inaugurated President Trump may be taking a closer look at Eurasia and considering the role it can play in supporting U.S. interests internationally.  Kazakhstan is a good place to start. It is a newly minted non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and shares and borders of over five thousand miles with Russia on one side and China on the other. Kazakhstan has seen significant progress since breaking from the Soviet Union in 1991. Much credit goes to the country’s founding President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. And Mr. Trump was right to have reportedly praised Kazakhstan’s development in that phone call. Most observers predicted a dismal future for a country trying to unravel from 71 years of Soviet domination. But instead, it has thrived. To be sure, Nazarbayev has his fair share of critics and opponents. But nothing succeeds like success, and that’s what he has brought to his country.  Now he is solidifying his success with a Plan of the Nation, unveiled last year at his inauguration. Already an upper middle-income country, the goal of the 100 Concrete Step Plan is to place Kazakhstan among the top thirty countries of the world by 2050. Read full article

07 декабря, 08:00

Фабрики мысли и политика США

«Мозговые центры» или «фабрики мысли» (амер. think tanks) рассматриваются сегодня в качестве одного из важнейших элементов структуры принятия политических решений в Соединенных Штатах Америки. По данным на конец 2015 года в США насчитывается порядка 1835 «мозговых центров». Их успешность в данном контексте может быть определена как способность воздействовать на политический процесс на различных этапах и […]

07 декабря, 00:47

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Josh Earnest en route Tampa, FL, 12/6/2016

Aboard Air Force One En Route Tampa, Florida 12:32 P.M. EST MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome aboard Air Force One as we make our way to Tampa, Florida, home of Central Command and Special Operations Command.  The President will have an opportunity before his speech today to spend some time with the military leadership on the base to get a briefing from them on some of the important work that they're doing around the world to keep us safe.   He'll also have an opportunity to briefly spend some time with some of our servicemembers -- rank-and-file servicemembers, as well.  And you will all have an opportunity to see him briefly address them and shake some hands before he moves to the venue where he'll deliver his more formal speech.  And there will be a number of servicemembers in attendance at this speech, as well.   You all got an update on the speech from the Deputy National Security Advisor yesterday afternoon, so I won't review all of that, although I'm happy to take any questions you may have about that in advance of the speech.  The speech has not changed significantly since all of you heard from Ben yesterday. The one thing I did want to point out before I get to your questions is, in addition, the administration has also put forward what we're describing as the legal and policy transparency report.  And the President will discuss in the speech why that report is so important.  It puts in one place the legal foundation of the national security strategy and operations that President Obama has ordered over the last several years.  There are many features of that strategy that benefit the American people.  One of them is ensuring that those programs and those operations are grounded in our values.  And President Obama has talked at length over the course of the last eight years about how important it is for our national security strategy to live up to the central values that we hold dear in this country and that, frankly, we're fighting for around the world. There are many people on the President's staff who contributed to the production of this report.  There's one person that I want to single out, though, and that's Chris Fonzone.  Chris is the legal advisor to the National Security Council.  Chris has served in a variety of senior legal jobs on the national security team both at the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense before joining the National Security Council.   And he spent countless hours working an interagency process to ensure that this report could be both compiled and released publicly.  Obviously, there's a lot of sensitive information that's included in this report.  And he did remarkable work.  And his skill and professionalism in carrying out that work is worthy of recognition, and that's what I'm trying to do here. So with that out of the way, why don’t we take your questions on this topic or anything else that might be on your mind this morning. Q    Is that report a rules of engagement report for the military or for intelligence operators? MR. EARNEST:  This is essentially a report that lays out the administration's legal thinking about the military strategy and counterterrorism operations that this administration has carried out over the last eight years.  And President Obama has talked about the legal underpinnings of this strategy in a variety of settings over the last eight years.  And the idea here was to put together a report that would essentially, in one place, help the American people and people around the world understand exactly how the operations that we're carrying out are consistent with U.S. law and consistent with our values. So one prominent example of this is -- it includes a discussion of how we definitively have ruled out the use of torture and interrogation.  It also talks about the steps that the President has taken to provide a legal architecture for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in carrying out counterterrorism operations.  When President Obama took office, there was a lot of legal ambiguity about how these programs could be used to keep the American people safe.  And the President believed -- has long believed that those programs would be more effective and inspire greater public confidence in the effective use of those programs if we were more transparent about the use of those programs and if we were clearer about the legal underpinnings of those programs.   So that's what we have done in this report, and the President has essentially made clear that this is a report that will now be produced on an annual basis by the administration and by administrations moving forward. Q    Are you also trying to give President-elect Donald Trump kind of a firm grounding of the legal underpinnings for your strategy? MR. EARNEST:  Well, to just be crystal-clear about this, as was suggested by the way that I described the effort to produce this report, this was not something that we had scrambled to produce in the aftermath of the election.  This is a report that the President long envisioned making public, and it is his view that this is the kind of report that will not just support the policymaking of the next administration, it is likely to be a report that will be useful in guiding the policymaking of multiple administrations moving forward.  This provides a legal foundation that future policymakers can draw on as they devise and adapt our counterterrorism and national security strategies to the modern threat environment.   And so the idea is that future presidents can use this venue to help the American people and even help the world understand exactly what the legal justification is, what the legal underpinnings are for carrying out these programs.  And the President believes that it's important to codify that legal reasoning because it makes these programs more durable, it ensures that these programs live up to the values that we embody as a country.  As soon as those values are called into question, the kind of moral authority that we bring to these operations and we bring to these arguments around the world is called into question and is even threatened.  And so much of our strength is strength that we draw on from our close cooperation and alliances with countries around the world, and our ability to strengthen those alliances is called into question if our reasoning for carrying out these operations is called into question. Q    Why release this report at the end of your administration?  I mean, doesn’t that kind of diminish the significance of it?  I mean, wouldn’t it have been more useful for the American people to know about the legal framework for your actions while they were going on?  Presumably, the next administration -- yes, they could use it, or they could completely trash it and decide to do something different, or try to take a different look at it.  So I guess I’m trying to see what is the -- if the next administration doesn’t use it, then what’s the point of it, what's the force? MR. EARNEST:  Well, Ayesha, the first thing to understand is that we live in a nation of laws, and these are laws that are applied that constrain the authority of the executive branch.  That’s how it should be. So hopefully we will not encounter a situation in which the next administration or subsequent administration has roughshod over those laws.  But particularly when we’re in an environment where we are at war against terrorists, there’s a temptation to do that.  And the President is using this opportunity to lay out his thinking for why we should resist that temptation. The second thing I would want to make clear is, many of these arguments are not being presented for the first time in this report.  The President has spoken at length in a variety of settings about the legal underpinnings of these programs, about bringing greater -- the process for bringing greater transparency for these programs.  As we’ve issued reports, for example, about additional drone strikes carried out by the United States military, just setting that example and setting that precedent is useful in trying to model and establish guidelines for subsequent administrations. So a lot of the work that we have been doing over the years does serve to support the case that we are making to the American public and to the incoming administration about the value of drawing on these values and principles as they design a counterterrorism strategy that is consistent with the threat environment that we face. So the last thing I’ll say about this is that this report is being released in conjunction with the regular notification that the administration provides to Congress pursuant to the War Powers report, and that is something that we’ve done on a semiannual basis.  And so that seems like an appropriate timing for us to not just update Congress about the operations that are ongoing around the world, but also to supplement that report with this policy and legal guidance that helps Congress, that helps the American people, and that helps people around the world understand the legal justification for carrying out these operations. Q    Josh, on the very sensitive issue of the use of torture, which has been highly debated during the campaign, to what extent will the President’s speech be also a message to the President-elect? MR. EARNEST:  Well, as I mentioned before, Jerome, this is a speech that President Obama was prepared to give before the election.  And the President does view this as an opportunity to lay out how the American people have benefitted from the counterterrorism strategy that this country has pursued over the last eight years, and this is a strategy that relies on strengthening our alliances, drawing upon our values, and enhancing the capacity of our partners on the ground in countries around the world to be at the front lines of this fight.   One example that the President will cite is the experience that we’ve had in Iraq.  The previous administration had a strategy of invading Iraq and overrunning the Iraqi military, disbanding the Iraqi military, and essentially putting U.S. servicemembers on the front lines of that fight.  That required a substantial commitment of resources, both financial resources of taxpayers but also the personal resources of the United States military.   President Obama envisioned a vastly different strategy -- a strategy where we demanded political accountability from the central government in Iraq, demanded that they pursue the kind of inclusive governing agenda that would be required to unite their country to take that fight to the terrorists on their own.  And that is what we have seen them do.  They have done that with the strong support of the United States.  As a result, we have succeeded in rolling back ISIL.  We’ve rolled them out of territory -- about half the territory that they previously controlled.  They are under intense pressure in cities like Mosul and in Raqqa.  And we have mobilized the international community to support that effort, and that has strengthened the United States. It’s also notable that we've been able to do all of that at a cost of about $10 billion over the last two years.  That's a substantial sum of money.  But at the height of the Iraq War that was pioneered by President Bush, that was costing $10 billion a month.  So the strategy that President Obama has put in place is more effective.  It keeps us safer.  It has fewer men and women -- American men and women in harm’s way.  And it costs American taxpayers a whole lot less.  It also has the benefit of being sustainable.  As the Iraqi security forces make additional progress in securing their own country, once they've driven out ISIL, they can also take responsibility for policing and securing their country.  And that is something that previously was left to U.S. servicemembers.  And when we tried to transfer that authority to Iraqi security forces, it didn't work. So that's just one example of the kind of argument that the President will be making that I think will be persuasive to Americans in both parties who believe that the Commander-in-Chief has a responsibility to the American people to prioritize our national security, to prioritize the wise use of our military resources, and to prioritize the judicious use of taxpayer dollars. Q    Josh, but as part of this transparency effort, Representative Schiff in the last couple days has talked about the release of the Senate torture report and the possibility that you guys would sort of declassify more of that than came out in the executive summary that the Senate provided.  Is that anything that the President is considering or that we might hear about today? MR. EARNEST:  I would not anticipate that you’d hear much from the President on this today.  But this is a report that was released in the context of the Obama administration.  It was produced by Congress.  And a declassified portion of the report, including the executive summary, was released.  And it did provide extensive information about some of the tactics that were used by the previous administration that, in the mind of the President, at least, are inconsistent with the kinds of values that we cherish in this country. And the President believes that ensuring that our counterterrorism programs are rooted in our values makes those programs more effective, more sustainable, it inspires greater confidence in those programs, and it makes it easier for us to strengthen our alliances.  Because ultimately our ability to fight terrorism successfully is going to require effective cooperation with our allies and partners around the world. Q    Can I ask about the budget?  And I’ve got three things, so I’ll try to go pretty quick on it.  The first is, Paul Ryan said today that he anticipates the CR going to April 28th.  That’s barely not May, which you guys have sort of objected to in the past, but I’m wondering if that’s an acceptable sort of timeline, or if you had carried the same objection. MR. EARNEST:  Justin, they have not released the text of the CR, and so I’m not going to comment in a lot of detail about the proposal until we’ve had a chance to take a look at it for ourselves. I will just reiterate, though, the significant concerns that were raised by Secretary Ash Carter, who said that the extension of a continuing resolution all the way until May would hamstring the ability of the Department of Defense to do everything that they believe is necessary to keep the American people safe. So that’s not a feature -- that’s not an advertised feature of their proposal that is appealing to the Obama administration.  And it’s something that our national security professionals are quite concerned about.  But I’m going to reserve judgment on the bill until we’ve had a chance to take a look at it. Q    And also, talk about a rider that would help General Mattis and his confirmation hearings by sort of clearing the waiver process now -- is that something that -- Senate Democrats have sort of voiced opposition to that.  Is that something that the White House would oppose to if it was added to the CR? MR. EARNEST:  I’ve heard some rumors that there’s the potential this could be included in the CR, but we’ll take a look on what they put forward -- we’ll take a look at what they put forward before we pass judgment on that specific proposal. Q    And then finally, there seems to be some Democrat-on-Democrat crime with the water bill right now.  Senator Boxer said that Republicans have added essentially a poison pill.  I’m wondering if you guys agree with that assessment.  This is regarding sort of the northern California-to-southern California water allocation and dam building environmental concerns, that sort of thing. MR. EARNEST:  We have been briefed on this measure.  I can tell you in general that we continue to review the bill.  But based on what we know so far, we don’t support the kinds of proposals that have been put forward to address some of the water resources issues in California right now. So we don’t support that measure that’s been put forward, but we’ll take a look at the bill in its totality.  And there’s more of those -- more proposals that are included in the bill that we need to review. The thing I want to hasten to add, though, is Republicans should not use the disagreement in California as an excuse to break their promise that they made to the people of Flint to provide resources to address the situation with the water supply in Flint, Michigan.  This is a promise that Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate made to provide resources to address that situation before the end of this year.   We’re nearing the end of the first week in December.  And we know that plenty of Republicans are hoping to get out of town and begin their holiday celebrations at the end of this week.  They should not do so until they have fulfilled their promise to the people of Flint who are waiting for the United States Congress to actually do something to address the difficult situation that they’re facing there. Q    Josh, President-elect Trump said this morning that he was going to cancel the Air Force One project.  He said it was way too expensive.  You all obviously have administered that project.  What’s your reaction to that?  Also, today, in the Washington Post there was a long story about a Pentagon savings report that the Washington Post reported was suppressed by this administration.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, let’s talk about Air Force One first.  I’d refer you to my colleagues at the Department of Defense for the particulars of the procurement contract.  Some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don’t appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense.  But I would acknowledge that these kinds of arrangements are rather complicated, so I’d refer you to my colleagues at the Department of Defense for a greater explanation. A couple of things that are worth understanding.  The first is, all of you have spent many hours on Air Force One and recognize the unique technical requirements that are part of Air Force One.  And I think the American people would expect that future U.S. Presidents would benefit from unique and upgraded capabilities while they’re traveling on Air Force One and representing the interests of the United States around the world. Second, I would just make clear that the work that the Department of Defense has been doing on this project with Boeing comes at the recommendation of national security experts and other technical experts offering them advice about the kinds of capabilities that should be included in an updated aircraft.   This Air Force One that we’re currently flying on is in great shape thanks to the skill and professionalism of the men and women of the United States Air Force.  It is, however, an aircraft that is nearing the end of its projected life.  And this administration has done the important work of ensuring that we are planning ahead so that future Presidents can benefit from a modern presidential aircraft in the same way that this President has benefitted from it. I would just point out that the updated Air Force One is not scheduled to come online until 2023.  So this is a longer-range plan.  But ultimately, the planning work that we have done on behalf of future Presidents is something that the next administration will have to decide whether or not to carry forward. Q    Josh, your administration itself, President Obama cancelled the Marine One project when he came into office.  How is this really any different from what you all did initially? MR. EARNEST:  Well, that Marine One project is one that was further in development, and it was clear that the expected cost was much greater than originally expected.  And that was based on how far the project had advanced at that point.  Our country was also in rather historically difficult financial circumstances.  And what President Obama did was he basically said that the process of procuring presidential helicopters should be restarted. So it wasn’t a situation that President Obama entirely canceled the program.  He essentially said the way that it’s been working thus far is too expensive, so he asked professionals at the Department of Defense to go back, reinitiate the program, and see if they could get the cost projections under control. And again, I’d refer you to my colleagues at the Department of Defense about this.  The way that the process has been working over the last seven years or so has factored in the significant technical requirements of a new presidential helicopter while also keeping costs under control.  And I expect that that effective management of that program will result in a new presidential helicopter that President-elect Trump will be glad that he has. With regard to your other question about The Washington Post report today, let me just quibble a little bit with some of the language in the story and in your question about the report being buried.  This is --  Q    Suppressed. MR. EARNEST:  Suppressed.  Suppressed.   This is a report that Defense News wrote an article on back in January of 2015.  So it’s possible that it’s an extraordinary compliment that it is due to the fine men and women who write for Defense News.  It also may be an indication that this is a document that was available to other members of the public, including other journalists who carefully cover the Pentagon.  I’ll also point out that, at least as of this morning, the report was available to anybody in the world that had a live Internet connection and a relatively modern Web browser because it was available at the Pentagon website. More generally, I would point out that there are many self-described defense hawks and fiscal conservatives in the United States Congress who are blocking Pentagon-recommended reforms that would strengthen our military and save taxpayers billions of dollars.  That's the real scandal.  That's worthy of front-page treatment on The Washington Post.   And when you consider the recommendations that this administration has put forward, including urging for years to Congress to re-initiate a BRAC process that would save taxpayers billions of dollars -- right now the Pentagon estimates that there’s 22 percent more infrastructure than the Pentagon actually needs to keep us safe.  The administration has long encouraged the phase-out of A-10 military aircraft that are in the process of being replaced by more modern equipment.  The administration has encouraged slowing down the production of the littoral combat ship until more upgrades can come online.  That will save taxpayers significant sums of money in maintenance costs in future years.   I could give you some additional examples, but I’ll stop there.  All of this is an indication that there are proposals that this administration has forwarded to Congress for years, included in our budget, that would strengthen our national defense and save taxpayers billions that are ignored by Congress, ignored by Republicans in Congress who claim to care about our national security and who claim to want to reduce government spending.  It’s scandalous and worthy of careful consideration.   Q    Chancellor Merkel endorsed a ban of a full-veil burqa today.  You guys have talked before in the past about upholding certain liberal traditions.  What reaction do you have to what Chancellor Merkel said? MR. EARNEST:  I’ve seen the news of the announcement, but I haven’t seen the details of what she said about it or how she described her thinking.  What I’ll just say is, here in the United States we obviously go to great lengths to protect the constitutional rights of every American to worship God in the manner that they choose.  In fact, this country was founded by people who came to the United States seeking a country where they could worship God in the manner that they chose without interference from the government.  So this is a value that President Obama feels quite strongly about.  This is a value of religious freedom that I think the vast majority of Americans feel quite strongly about.  But I can't speak to the specific decision that was made by Chancellor Merkel today. Anybody else?  We’ll see you on the ground, guys.  Thank you.  END  12:58 P.M. EST

06 декабря, 23:35

Dole lobbied Trump's team on Taiwan for months

Private briefings, convention delegation, tougher platform language all preceded protocol-breaking phone call.

06 декабря, 21:06

Pentagon May Receive Over $600 Billion Despite Hiding Additional $125 Billion ‘Waste’

Via The Daily Bell  House Pushes Ahead with $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill … The Republican-led House is pushing ahead with a $611 billion defense policy bill that prohibits closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forbids the Pentagon from trimming the number of military bases and awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years. -Business Insider The Pentagon is about to reap a generous windfall of revenue of up to $600 billion or more (see above) even though it cannot adequately account for up to $8 trillion and just recently was exposed for hiding some $125 billion of “bureaucratic waste. A Washington Post investigation reveals this waste, which was internally documented in a study by the Pentagon. That study itself showed the funds that were improperly distributed. Here, from the Post story: The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post. Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results. The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology. … Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management. Despite this, House lawmakers will vote on Friday to authorize DOD and Pentagon military spending for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. More: The Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said it’s the largest military pay increase since 2010.  The White House Office of Management and Budget objected to the larger raise, telling lawmakers earlier this year that the lower amount would save $336 million this fiscal year and $2.2 billion through 2021. The bill also forbids planned troop reductions and adds service members to the Air Force and Marine Corps.  And there is this: “Lawmakers also inserted into the defense bill the $5.8 billion in additional war-related funding Obama requested last month.” Back in August we reported on some $8 trillion that the Pentagon could not and cannot properly account for. You can see the article here. In another article here, we mentioned Donald Trump’s intention to address military spending, which he called a “disaster.” We suggested that the Pentagon didn’t need more money but needed to figure out first how to administer what it had. In fact, as the English-located Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed in October, Pentagon funds again were directed toward questionable programs.  The BIJ investigation found that the Pentagon had “paid a British PR firm $500 million for top secret Iraq propaganda.” The most recent report can be seen here. The videos created fake documentaries of supposed Al Qaeda operations and explosions. The Pentagon gave a controversial UK PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda programme in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal.  Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee. The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking US military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters as the insurgency raged outside …  Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq, he said. … In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the US military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells – who no longer works for the company – told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was “shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.” The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus – then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq – and on occasion by the White House, Wells said. The BIJ is a not-for-profit organization founded by David and Elaine Potter in 2010 with $2 million and dedicated to educating “the public about the realities of power in today’s world.” From the website: Since its foundation the Bureau has worked with BBC File On Four, BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, Channel 4 Dispatches, Channel 4 News, al Jazeera English, the Independent, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Times, Le Monde, Mediapart, the Guardian, the Observer and the Daily Mirror. The trouble with making up such reports with professional media values is that they travel far beyond the confines they were supposedly intended for. There’s nothing that stops them from traveling throughout the West and even to the US, and some apparently did. Anyone can then make use of them or report on them as if they are real. This probably only touches on larger US military fakery. Here at the TDB we’ve been investigating questions about the Pentagon’s 70-year-old nuclear program and have concluded that much of what the Pentagon has stated publicly about the program is at least questionable – certainly in its beginnings. You can see articles here, here and here. Conclusion: The Pentagon  doesn’t need a bigger budget. It needs to be more accountable – and Congress certainly does too. Using Hollywood technology to create fake nuclear explosions or making videos about enemies that don’t exist amount to forms of domestic propaganda. And hiding billions and even trillions so spending is never properly attributed has little to do with how a functioning democracy is supposed to operate (let alone a republic). Editor's Note: The Daily Bell is giving away a silver coin and a silver "white paper" to subscribers. If you enjoy DB's articles and want to stay up-to-date for free, please subscribe here.  More from The Daily Bell:  Will Rand Paul Fight Fake News With a Filibuster?Rand Corp. Blasts ‘Truth Decay’ – Wants Facts Determined by Appropriate Leaders  Elites Plot to Replace Austrian Free-Market Economics?

06 декабря, 12:04

Ухудшение отношений с Китаем не поможет "Америке снова стать великой" – СМИ КНР

В Китае возмущены критикой Дональда Трампа в адрес КНР.

06 декабря, 09:12

Заигрывание с Тайванем и торговые трения с Пекином не помогут Америке "вновь стать великой" - китайские СМИ

Китайские СМИ во вторник предупредили избранного президента США Дональда Трампа, что его контакты с Тайванем и создание проблем в торгово-экономических отношениях между двумя странами не помогут реализовать его предвыборный лозунг: "Сделаем Америку снова великой!".

06 декабря, 03:13

Flynn under fire for fake news

A shooting at a D.C. pizza restaurant is stoking criticism of the conspiracy theories being spread by Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser.

06 декабря, 02:43

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 12/5/16

12:28 P.M. EST    MR. EARNEST:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Happy Monday.  I hope you all enjoyed your weekends.  I do not have any announcements at the top, so we can go straight to your questions.   Kevin, would you like to begin?    Q    Sure.  Thank you, Josh.  Has the President talked to anyone affiliated with President-elect Trump’s transition team or to President Xi about the President-elect’s call with the leader in Taiwan?  Have any concerns been expressed with foreign leaders at all about this call?  Or is this simply President-elect Trump’s to own and for the current administration to distance itself from?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Kevin, I don't have any presidential conversations to tell you about.  I can confirm that U.S. officials, including senior officials at the National Security Council, have been in touch with their Chinese counterparts to reiterate our country’s continued commitment to a one-China policy.     This is a policy that is based on three joint U.S.-China communiques that were negotiated by different U.S. Presidents in different parties and, of course, by the Taiwan Relations Act.  This is a policy that has been in place for nearly 40 years, and it has been focused on promoting and preserving peace and stability in the strait.  The adherence to and commitment to this policy has advanced the ability of the United States to make progress in our relationship with China and, of course, has benefitted the people of Taiwan.  Taiwan, after all, is the ninth-largest trading partner of the United States, and they certainly benefit from peace and stability in the strait.  And pursuit of and commitment to that peace and stability advances U.S. interests.     If the President-elect’s team has a different aim, I'll leave it to them to describe.   Q    Have you had conversations with the President-elect’s team, and did you get the sense that this call is designed to forge closer relations with Taiwan?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think it's hard to determine exactly what the aim was of the President-elect.  I know both the Vice President-elect and his campaign manager were -- when asked about this over the weekend, indicated that these were courtesy calls -- or that this was a courtesy call and the President-elect was merely returning that call.  The Washington Post today tells a different story, with some Trump aides indicating that this was a long-planned call and that this is part of a broader strategic effort.   It's unclear exactly what the strategic effort is, what the aim of the strategic effort is, and it's unclear exactly what potential benefit could be experienced by the United States, China or Taiwan.  But I'll leave that to them to explain.   Q    Keeping on foreign affairs, what is the President’s reaction to the election results in Italy?  And he put some political capital into this, bringing Prime Minister Renzi in for the final official visit.  Is he disappointed in the results?  And is he concerned that this is kind of the beginning of the unraveling of the European Union?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Kevin, obviously both the President and the President-elect had quite a bit to say about this when Prime Minister Renzi was here at the White House back in October.  And the President, at that point, indicated his hope that the Italian people would be supportive of the referendum and the reforms that Prime Minister Renzi put forward.  Didn’t turn out that way.     I would warn against painting with an overly broad brush about the potential consequences of this outcome.  There certainly is a not entirely unreasonable tendency to want to loop together the outcome in the UK and even the outcome of the U.S. presidential election with this outcome.  But each of these is different.  We're talking about different constituencies.  In one case, we're talking about a presidential election; in two other cases we're talking about a referendum, only one of which actually had a direct impact on Brexit.     So there are some broader trends that are worthy of analysis, but I think there’s a risk in oversimplifying that analysis based on the outcome of yesterday’s referendum in Italy.   Q    Thank you.   MR. EARNEST:  Okay.  Roberta.     Q    Since Friday, what contact has the administration had with other allies in Asia who may have been concerned about the call?   MR. EARNEST:  I don't have any other diplomatic conversations to tell you about.  Obviously the United States, through the State Department and other agencies, including occasionally from the National Security Council, is in touch with our allies not just in Asia but around the world.  I think that there were a couple of conversations over the weekend between senior U.S. officials at the National Security Council and Chinese officials to reiterate and clarify the continued commitment of the United States the our longstanding one-China policy.  But beyond that, I don't have diplomatic conversations to read you out.   Q    You can't say one way or the other whether there were other conversations with other allies?   MR. EARNEST:  I can't say one way or the other.   Q    And I guess I'm wondering, with the rebels in Aleppo being almost completely overwhelmed, how concerned is the White House that Al-Nusra or other groups like that are going to step in and sort of gain strength because of what’s happening?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think our concern with the situation in Aleppo right now, Roberta, is focused on the plight of thousands of civilians, including children, who are caught in harm’s way.  And the reports continue to trickle out of Aleppo are increasingly dire and the situation there continues to worsen.  And it's clear that while far too many innocent lives have already been lost, there are many more innocent lives that are at risk, including women and children.     And it is a reflection of the depravity of the Assad regime. It is a reflection of the willingness of the Russian government and the Iranians to risk deepening involvement in a quagmire to accomplish a goal of trying to shore up their influence in the region.  And it raises profound moral concerns.  It also serves to isolate Syria, Russia and Iran from basically the rest of the world, who’s deeply concerned with the violence that they see continuing to be perpetuated in that war-torn country.   Q    So it raises profound moral concerns.  Are any adjustments being made to U.S. policy in Syria because of what's happening now?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, the U.S. efforts underway right now are diplomatic in nature.  And we have said from the beginning of this conflict that a military solution is not available.  The only available solution is a diplomatic one.  And for a time, the United States, through the historic and tenacious efforts of Secretary of State Kerry, were focused on trying to reach a bilateral negotiated agreement with the Russians.  But again, despite his tenacious efforts, that kind of solution was not to be found.  But Secretary of State Kerry has remained undeterred and has continued to pursue a multilateral negotiated agreement to try to bring the violence to an end, or at least reduce the violence and not allow so many innocent Syrians to be in harm's way of a bloody bombing campaign.   But I'd refer you to the State Department of an update on those efforts, but obviously that's something that he continues to work on very diligently because of our nation's profound concern for the plight of those innocent Syrian men, women and children.   Michelle. Q    Thanks, Josh.  Among the criticism that's been out there of Donald Trump's foreign policy or his contact with foreign leaders are that he's winging it, and also we've heard from one who is a congressman, that that's how wars start.  How seriously does the administration take some of these contacts?  I mean, do you think that this borders on dangerous?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, whenever you are talking about the President-elect of the United States interacting with foreign leaders, it's incredibly important.  It has profound consequences for our country and for our national interests around the world. In talking about this situation -- well, let me be more specific.    Last week, we had some conversations about a conversation that the President-elect had with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. And I noted in answering questions about that telephone call that President Obama, over the course of his eight years in the White House, has benefitted significantly from the expertise, advice, and experience of career diplomats at the State Department.  And that expertise and advice is available to the President-elect.  That advice will continue to be available to him when he enters the Oval Office.  President Obama benefitted from it, and President-elect would, as well.   Q    Do you think that his contact with Taiwan and his tweeting about China, is that dangerous?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, I think what is true is that there has been a longstanding policy in place that's been governed by our one-China policy, undergirded by three different joint communiqués negotiated between U.S. Presidents and their Chinese counterparts.  My understanding is that these -- or the facts are that these communiqués were negotiated, one in 1972 by President Nixon, one in 1979 by President Carter, and one in 1982 by President Reagan, and those joint communiqués have guided our approach to this region of the world.  And the Chinese government in Beijing places an enormous priority on this situation and it's a sensitive matter.  And some of the progress that we have made in our relationship with China could be undermined by this issue flaring up.  It’s also unclear how the people who live in Taiwan benefit from this issue flaring up.   The response from the Chinese government in the aftermath of this call has primarily been to ratchet up the rhetoric against Taiwan.  And it’s unclear to me how that kind of consequence benefits the people of Taiwan or benefits the ninth-largest trading partner of the United States.  So these are significant issues and worthy of careful consideration.   Q    And we know the Chinese officials reached out to the current administration after this phone call with Taiwan.  So what does this administration say to the Chinese in this instance?  I mean, what really can you say?   MR. EARNEST:  What we have made clear in a couple of different phone conversations is that the administration is committed to our nation’s pursuit of a one-China policy rooted in three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act.  This is a policy that’s been in place for 40 years -- or almost 40 years, and it’s a policy that has been aimed at promoting peace and stability in the Strait.  And this has been a policy that has advanced the interests of the United States both in terms of advancing our relationship with China, but also in terms of the interests of the people of Taiwan, who happen to be the ninth-largest trading partner of the United States.  So there are significant economic consequences here as well.     Q    So, in saying that, are you expressing confidence to them that that policy will continue?  Or do you really have no way of knowing? MR. EARNEST:  Well, it’s the President-elect and his team who can speak to what sort of policy they intend to pursue after January 20th.  I can’t speak to that.   Q    But you say that there have been a number of phone conversations with the Chinese government.   MR. EARNEST:  I’m aware of two different phone conversations with officials at the National Security Council with their Chinese counterparts.   Q    Okay, great.  Thanks, Josh.   MR. EARNEST:  Justin.   Q    I wanted to return to Italy first.  I was wondering if you could talk a bit about what you anticipate it meaning for European refugee policy, and also if the administration -- if anybody in the Treasury Department or here at the White House has been in touch with sort of financial markets out of this concern that this could either impact the Euro, or kind of spark fears of a recession or a run on the banks -- all these different possible economic consequences.   MR. EARNEST:  There are obviously a range of potential contingencies any time there is a significant national election like this.  It’s no secret that the Treasury Department has been closely monitoring the financial system in Italy for some time now.  There have been increased signs of volatility there.  I’m certainly no expert on those issues so I’d refer you to my colleagues at the Treasury Department for an analysis.   I know that a number of analysts have suggested that the market reaction is indicative of this being the anticipated outcome, but I’ll let those analysts speak to that assessment.  Obviously, the United States and Italy have an important economic relationship, and the United States benefits from Italy and the EU more generally making smart financial and economic decisions.   With regard to the potential consequences for the unity of the European Union, I think that remains to be seen.  Obviously, this is not a -- the referendum was not on -- was not a question about Italy’s relationship with the EU, but there are a range of broader potential consequences that I can’t speak to.  But obviously, there are some important political decisions for Italy in the near term in terms of Prime Minister Renzi submitting his resignation and the need to form a new government -- whether that’s a caretaker government or another government is something that ultimately the Italian President will have some say on.   But, look, the United States and Italy have an extraordinarily important relationship.  And that relationship was on display when Prime Minister Renzi was here at the White House just six weeks or so ago.  And obviously, there’s a deep cultural relationship between our two countries.  There are many people who live in this country who proudly identify themselves as Italian-American.  The security relationship between the United States and Italy is critical.  Italy is a NATO member and has made important contributions to our counter-ISIL campaign, to the NATO effort in Afghanistan.  And we obviously work closely and consult closely with Italy as we resolve some of the security concerns with regard to ISIL’s presence in Libya.   So this is an extraordinarily important relationship to the United States and to our national security and to our economy.  And that will continue to remain the case even as they work through some of the political challenges that they’re currently facing.   Q    I want to ask about the decision by the Army Corps to delay the Dakota access pipeline for an environmental review.  I’m interested both in your general reaction, but also if the White House was in any way sort of in contact with the Army Corps or dictating this decision to sort of further --   MR. EARNEST:  Justin, I’ve indicated before that the White House was being regularly updated on the talks between concerned local residents and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army with regard to the construction of this infrastructure project.  The White House did not and has not been dictating the outcome, but rather has been updated by the Army Corps on the negotiations.   The President, a couple of weeks ago, welcomed the indication from the United States Army and other government agencies to redouble their consultation with those communities that are most directly affected by the construction of this project.   This is typically the kind of principle that you would hear from conservative politicians -- that whenever the federal government is undertaking a project that has a direct impact on a local community or a local American citizen, that the rights to that person and that community should be very carefully considered.   There has been some criticism from self-described conservative politicians.  Why they have reached a different conclusion in this case is something you'd have to ask them.  It's curious to me.  But I think more generally, the President believes that this kind of consultation between federal agencies and local communities is important, particularly when a local community has such a significant stake in the outcome or is so significantly affected by a project like this moving forward.  And that was the case in this situation.  And the result has been for this federal agency to determine that more study is required. But ultimately that was a decision that was arrived at by the agency -- in this case, the United States Army.   Q    Protestors there obviously are happy with the delay, but there's been complaints throughout the last few weeks about some of the tactics that have been used by local law enforcement, whether it be using water cannons on freezing nights, or rubber bullets.  I'm wondering what the White House's perception of the way local law enforcement has treated these protests is, and if there's been any consideration of sort of a federal intervention into the interaction between protestors and law enforcement.   MR. EARNEST:  I'm not aware of any contemplated federal *interaction [intervention] at this point.  What I am aware of is the very first thing that the President said publically about this matter earlier this fall.  And the very first thing that he said was he encouraged protestors to abide by the responsibility that they have to exercise their constitutional rights to protest peacefully.  They have that responsibility.  The President also made clear that law enforcement officials who have a responsibility to keep that peace have a responsibility to handle themselves in a manner that would promote peace in watching over these protests.  So that's important.  And that's the responsibility that people on both sides of this issue have, and the President's expectation is that those are responsibilities that they should uphold.   Q    One last one.  President Rouhani said over the weekend that if President Obama did not block the Iran Sanctions Act there would be a "firm response" from Iran.  I'm wondering what your reaction to that is, and especially your level of concern, considering that the Ayatollah and others in Iran have said continuing this legislation, even though it doesn't directly impose sanctions itself, would be a violation of the Iran nuclear deal.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, we've made clear since Congress was considering the passage of this legislation that this legislation was not inconsistent with the agreement that was reached in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- this was ultimately the international agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  We've been clear about that from the beginning, and that's clear today.  And in fact, we made clear that if Congress did pass legislation that undermined the deal that was inconsistent with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that the President would veto it.   And given the support in the Congress for the deal, there was sufficient political support to ensure that the President could back up that promise.  In this case, because the legislation doesn't undermine the deal and is not inconsistent with the agreement, the President does intend to sign it into law.   Olivier.   Q    Thanks, Josh.  I've got two for you.  The first one -- I'm trying to understand this outreach -- this conversation between the U.S. and China in the aftermath of the President-elect's phone call.  They know that he doesn't speak for you guys and that you guys don't speak for him, so I'm trying to understand how your message of continuity of policy can get across to them.  They've got to know, as you acknowledge, that in January, everything could change.  So are you promising them that he's going to see the light somehow, or what’s the message there?   MR. EARNEST:  No, there’s no attempt and no effort and, frankly, no desire to make promises on behalf of the President-elect.  When the President-elect assumes office, when he assumes the awesome responsibility of governing the greatest country in the world, that’s something that he’ll do on his own.     The assurances that we could offer the Chinese government were the ongoing commitment of the U.S. government to the pursuit of a one-China policy that we believe has benefitted the United States, China and Taiwan.  But the Chinese government and senior officials in the Chinese government are sophisticated enough to understand the complexities of the U.S. political system and they understand that President Obama’s ability to set our policy towards this region of the world expires on January 20th, and someone else will take over.  Our message -- the message that was conveyed by senior National Security Council officials was intended to make clear that the policy position of the Obama administration had not changed.   Q    And then could you give us a flavor -- we got a flavor of the speech tomorrow from Eric last week.  Could you flesh it out a little bit more?  What is the President’s purpose in giving this speech tomorrow?  Is this a legacy-minded assessment of his eight years in office on the foreign policy front?  Is it about unfinished business?  And to the degree that it is about unfinished business, is he planning on suggesting to the incoming administration that they finish that?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, I don’t have a whole lot more to say about the speech for tomorrow.  We’ll try and get you some more information before the end of the day today, just as you prepare to write about the President’s speech.   I think, in general, what I can tell you is that the speech is focused on underscoring how important some of the reforms are that President Obama has put in place with regard to greater accountability and transparency in our national security programs.  These reforms were necessary in part because, when President Obama took office our country was benefitting from new technology, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, to apply pressure to terrorist organizations and terrorist leaders in remote locations.  And President Obama believed it was important and worth a lot of time and effort to impose some constraints on how that program was used and to make it more transparent.     And the President’s view is that by putting in place that legal architecture, it would make the program more durable.  It would also inspire greater confidence around the globe in our ability to conduct these programs consistent with our values.  And so much of the authority and influence the United States wields around the world is derived from our adherence to these universal values.   So I think the goal tomorrow is to help the American people understand why these reforms were so important, and understand why they’re so valuable to our national security moving forward. There will be an acknowledgement that there is additional work in this area that needs to be done and will require thoughtful consideration by national security professionals in the next administration.  But the President is quite proud of all of the progress that we have made, both in terms of keeping the country safe, but also in making sure that our country lives up to the values that are central to our greatness.   Jordan.   Q    Thanks, Josh.  I want to know if the White House has any reaction to the arrest that was made yesterday at Comet Pizza up in Northwest.  I’m asking because the President has spoken out a number of times on the corrosive effect that fake news has had on the political discourse, and I know that a lot of the rumors surrounding that establishment was spread by fake news online.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me start by complimenting and crediting local law enforcement here in the Washington area who responded with a lot of professionalism to that situation in preventing any bloodshed.  So this is just another example of how our men and women in blue never take a day off from keeping us safe.  We owe them a debt of gratitude, and that certainly applies to the brave men and women who serve in the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington, D.C.   The second thing I can tell you is that those law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate this situation.  I know there have been some interviews that have been conducted with the subject and I think there’s some interest in trying to learn more about what exactly his motives were.     I think more generally it’s -- even without knowing precisely what those motives were, I think there’s no denying the corrosive effect that some of these false reports have had on our political debate.  And that’s concerning in a political context. It’s deeply troubling that some of those false reports could lead to violence.    So, again, it’s unclear if that’s exactly what happened in this situation.  I’ll let local officials speak to that.  But this is something that I think everybody is going to spend some time thinking about, particularly people in this room and the people who represent news organizations in this room.  How people understand what’s happening in the world is important to the functioning of our democracy.  And this is something that I assume the next administration is going to have to spend some time thinking about and working on as well.   Q    Do you think the President-elect or his top advisors need to speak out about this problem, too?  We’ve seen the son of Michael Flynn, the incoming national security advisor, spread some of the rumors about this pizza shop on his Twitter account. So given that, do you think that senior members of the Trump team need to respond?   MR. EARNEST:  I’m not here to issue any specific challenges to the incoming administration on any topic.  I think we all hold a responsibility, regardless of whether or not we are planning to serve in a government position or if one of our family members is planning to serve in a government position, that we shouldn’t be propagating false things that could inspire violence.  I think that’s a -- there’s probably some overlap of the Golden Rule there I think somewhere that may be worth considering.   Q    Just lastly, there was a group of 22 Republican senators who sent a letter to President Obama today asking him to stop issuing any non-emergency rules and regulations in the final weeks of the administration.  Just wondering if the White House has received that letter and if you have any response to it.   MR. EARNEST:  I haven’t seen the letter, but it’s not the first time we’ve been asked about a letter that purports to carry the same kind of message.  And I think I’ll just reiterate something that I think President Obama has said, which is simply that the rulemaking process in the Obama administration continues.  And our goal is not to generate a bunch of new rules in response to the surprising election outcome, but rather to ensure that the rulemaking process that has long been underway is completed effectively and in a timely fashion before President Obama leaves office.  And that’s what we’re focused on doing.   Kevin.   Q    Thanks, Josh.  Any update on the situation in Oakland, California -- devastating fire there?  Is there any federal response to what has happened there?   MR. EARNEST:  Obviously, Kevin, what happened in Oakland is a heartbreaking situation.  Dozens of people who thought they were showing up to a party didn’t go home.  And it raises lots of questions that are still being carefully considered by investigators about building codes and what sort of precautions were put in place to ensure the safety of partygoers.  And obviously, those precautions were woefully insufficient, and it’s a tragedy.     I can tell you that White House officials have been in touch with the mayor’s office to offer our condolences and offer our support to local officials that are bearing a heavy burden.  And this is another situation where you’ve got first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to try to protect the public -- in this case, firefighters and EMTs that used their skill to save lives.  And we’re certainly grateful for that.  But this is a community that’s mourning and it’s obviously a very sad turn of events.   Q    Let me ask you about Gitmo.  I understand there was indeed a transfer.  Can you give us more details about that, and do you expect others this week?   MR. EARNEST:  I'd refer to my colleagues at the Department of Defense for the details.  But there was one Guantanamo Bay detainee that was transferred to Cape Verde.  This is an individual who will be subject to some security requirements that were negotiated in advance by the United States with the local government there to ensure that this individual does not pose an undue threat to our national security.     The population at Gitmo is now down to 59.  And there are still at least a couple dozen of those individuals who are eligible for transfer, and we're continuing to do the diplomatic work of finding an arrangement for those individuals to be safely transferred to another country.   Q    So it's still the President’s intention to continue with the transfers but not necessarily close down the facility -- is that sort of a fait accompli at this point?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, we're continuing to do this important work, and this is work that's rather painstaking in making sure that were carefully reviewing the files, putting the national security interests of the United States first, and doing the important work with countries around the world to try to find a suitable location where these individuals can be transferred.   Our stated goal of closing the prison is still rooted in the ideas that closing the prison would be good for taxpayers because it's prohibitively expensive to continue to run it, and our view is also that continuing to have the prison open only serves to advance the recruiting interests of extremist organizations that do view the continued operation of the prison at Guantanamo Bay as an effective recruitment tool.     And this is not just an observation that was made by the Obama administration.  Senior officials who served in President Bush’s administration said the same thing and have advocated for the closure of the prison for the same reasons.  So this has bipartisan support among national security professionals that this is a prison that should be closed.  And we continue to be strongly opposed to the politically motivated effort by the Congress to prevent and obstruct the successful closure of the prison.   Q    I want to last ask you about the comments you made earlier about what happened in Italy.  You said it would be a mistake, you said, to oversimplify.  But would you at least acknowledge the there is a populist wave that appears to be happening throughout Europe?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Kevin, I think that's overly stated just because we saw the outcome in Austria --   Q    Would you also acknowledge, given that history in contributing -- one of their citizens being one of the most reviled in all of history might sort of set them separate.  I'm not suggesting that they’re somehow not from that community, the European Community, but I am suggesting is when you see what happened in France, Brexit, now Italy, there seems to be a building populism.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, I think what is true is -- and this is true irrespective of the election outcomes -- I think it is true that there are people in Europe who are frustrated that the current state of the economy doesn’t allow them to meet the aspirations that they have set for themselves and their family.  And they are looking for answers.     And the President made the point on a number of occasions that policymakers need to be focused on expanding economic growth and looking for ways to drive that growth, both by investing in the citizens of their country, but also in making investments in local markets to try to spur that economic growth.  That would be good for the global economy but also would be good for the living conditions and the aspirations of the people in their country.   And there's a reaction on the part of some people to give into the temptation to try to withdraw from the international community, the sense that there will be a bigger slice of the pie, so to speak, to enjoy if you build fences around the country and prevent other people from getting access to the pie.  That actually flies in the face of a strategy that's rooted in using our interconnected, integrated world to grow the size of the pie, and give more workers the opportunity to succeed, and ensure that the economic growth and productivity and economic benefits of globalization are not just enjoyed by those at the top but that that prosperity is enjoyed by everybody.     Q    Is that message winning?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, look, I think that this is a fundamental question that is facing leaders all around the world, not just in Europe, and there's a fundamental tension here that needs to be resolved.  And, again, I think this is something that we can say irrespective of election outcomes because I think there's nothing that was on the ballot in Italy that was directly related to the EU or to the prospect of Italy leaving the EU.  But, look, I think these are broader trends that leaders all around the world are going to have to confront.   Ron.   Q    Just quickly on the Oakland fire.  The federal involvement in that was just support, resources?  Is that the extent of it now?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, the role of the federal government is to offer assistance to local officials who are dealing with the situation.  And right now, local officials are engaged in a painstaking effort to comb through the remains of the fire in search of additional people who may have died in the fire, but also in carefully investigating this particular incident.  And I know that some law enforcement officials have locally indicated their intent to consider this from a criminal angle.  I'd refer you to them for the investigation.   Q    That's the part I was wondering about.  Is there federal concern about some of these issues that have been raised about inspections, about the -- that people were living in a place that apparently wasn't a home or a residential environment? Is that part of your -- the federal government's concern and involvement?   MR. EARNEST:  These regulations that relate to building codes and fire codes are something that are administered at the local level.  So I'm not aware of any involvement by the Department of Justice in this matter, but you should check with them to confirm.   Q    And just lastly on the transition.  We're a few weeks into now, and I know you don't want to comment on specific appointments and so on and so forth, but there are a number of issues that have been raised about the President-elect's businesses and conflicts of interests, some appointees have raised some eyebrows -- the national security advisor, counsel to the President, the head of Health and Human Services, for example.  There have been these phone calls with foreign leaders that have raised some issues.  Is the President still satisfied with the way things are going?  And you've said his goal was for a smooth and I think you even used the word successful transition.  Does he still see that happening now, given where we are?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Ron, I think this is a situation where the President is focused on making sure that this administration is doing everything possible that we can and doing everything that is under our control to facilitate a smooth and effective transition into the next presidency.   Obviously, this administration is not going to be in a position to offer them personnel advice or certainly not advice that would be unsolicited from the podium, or to try to help them craft what sort of policies they want to implement.  If they're interested in the advice of members of the President's transition team, then they certainly know how to seek out that advice, and the President's team stands ready to share it.  But ultimately, what the President and his team are focused on is making sure that we are taking everything that is under our control, and orienting it in the direction of ensuring a smooth and effective transition that will give the incoming President and his team the best opportunity to succeed at uniting and leading the country.  Whether or not the incoming administration is oriented effectively to take advantage of that opportunity is something that you have to ask them about.   Q    Increasingly, though, more is not under your control or the President's control.  Is there some tension, some feeling that he has of his inability to shape events?  And while, again, you're trying to make this effective and facilitate what the incoming administration wants to do, there's obviously these contradictions between what the President would like them to be doing versus what they are doing.  How does he reconcile that?  Is it just that the election has consequences and you just have to -- you can't throw your hand up and walk away?  To what extent is he trying to influence events in terms of policy and so forth for the transition?   MR. EARNEST:  Look, what this President is trying to do is to make sure that his team is oriented in such a way that we can provide all of the cooperation and information that the next President's team requires to get off to a running start.  And President Obama believes that that is in the best interest of the country to do that and that's why we are focused on that direction.   Look, the truth of the matter is that even if Secretary Clinton had won the election, it's still likely that her team would be sending signals about making changes to policies that President Obama kind of liked.  So this is the nature of a democracy and this is the nature of a peaceful transfer of power -- that the person who’s been in office for eight years has to willingly give up power and give up influence and give up authority.   Q    But sometimes that's very difficult to accept.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, look, I think that's -- well, I guess what I would say is that's the reason it doesn’t happen in most places.  Most countries in the world, they don’t have this kind of process, and for most of human history, the process has been bloody and has been a transition by force.  That's the genius of our system.  And it does require the person who's currently sitting in that office to put the interest of the country ahead of its own political preferences.  That's absolutely true.  But that is a responsibility that President Obama has embraced, and the country is better off for it.   Maggie.   Q    You've announced that Prime Minister Abe will be visiting Pearl Harbor as the first Japanese Prime Minister to do so.  This is right after President Obama went to Hiroshima as the first sitting U.S. President to do so since the bombing.  Why are these historic visits happening now?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, obviously the decision by Prime Minister Abe to travel to Pearl Harbor is a decision that he made, and he issued a statement today indicating that is he hopeful that his visit will be an indication of how adversaries have an opportunity to reconcile their differences and pursue a peaceful future together as allies.  That's certainly what happened between the United States and Japan.  And there are Presidents in both parties that have sought to advance those shared goals, and certainly Japanese prime ministers in a variety of parties that have sought to advance those shared goals.  I know that Prime Minister Abe also indicated his desire to travel to Pearl Harbor as a show of respect for those who died on that day.     So, look, President Obama visited Hiroshima earlier this year.  It was a powerful image seeing the American President and the Japanese Prime Minister standing side by side in that city.  And I would expect that seeing the Japanese Prime Minister and the American President standing side by side in Pearl Harbor, at the memorial of the USS Arizona, just a couple of weeks after the 75th anniversary of that attack I think will be similarly powerful.  And I think it is just one more occasion for us to remember the substantial sacrifice and the remarkable patriotism of the greatest generation of Americans.     President Obama's grandfather played an important role in World War II in terms of signing up to fight for his country, and remembering that Greatest Generation of Americans, his grandfather is obviously at the forefront of his mind.  But millions of Americans, I think, certainly can spend some time this week remembering the remarkable contribution and the remarkable sacrifice that millions of Americans made to ensure that the United States emerge victorious from World War II.   Q    When President Obama visited Hiroshima, was this visit by the Prime Minister already in the works?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, there had always been a number of conversations between the U.S. President and the Prime Minister of Japan about the symbolic value of an American presidential visit to Hiroshima.  And I know there had been discussions previously about the Japanese Prime Minister visiting Pearl Harbor, as well.  I think if the two were directly linked, they probably would have been announced simultaneously, but they were not.  But, look, there have always been discussions about these important symbolic gestures, and there's no downplaying the significance of the Japanese Prime Minister's decision to visit Pearl Harbor just three weeks after the 75th anniversary of the attacks there.   Sarah.   Q    Thanks, Josh.  A couple of questions related to the transition and the President's stated commitment to it.  First, there have been some Democratic senators on the Hill who have talked about seeing what happened to Chief Judge Garland, to now Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and saying that maybe they should kind of not really rush on President-elect Trump's nominees.  The President knows how important it is to have people in his Cabinet when he's getting up and running.  How does he feel about the idea of slow-walking Trump's nominees?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, look, there is the stated fact about the way that Chairman Grassley handled his business over the course of the last year, or couple of years.  Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the first African American woman to serve as the Attorney General of the United States, waited longer than her six or seven predecessors combined to be confirmed into that job.  Why Republicans imposed that kind of delay on her candidacy and her nomination I think is something that only they can explain.     With regard to Chief Judge Garland, he has waited more than 200 days for action in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we’ve heard from Chairman Grassley a blanket refusal to even consider his nomination despite the fact he’s got more experience on the federal bench than any other Supreme Court nominee in American history, despite the fact that Republicans acknowledge that he represents a consensus pick, and despite the fact that he is somebody who has served his country bravely, including investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators of one of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil.   But when President-elect Trump signals his intent to nominate an attorney general, Chairman Grassley kicks the squeaky wheels of the Senate judiciary conformation process into motion. And I do think it reflects an unprecedented injection of partisanship into what had previously been a committee that went to some length to try to prevent partisan politics from infecting the process.     But under the purview of Chairman Grassley, it’s clear that the process hasn’t just been infected but they’ve got a full-blown fever of partisanship.  But when you are the Republican chair of the committee presiding over a partisan committee and considering the nominees of the Republican President, I guess it’s smooth sailing.  We’ll see.   Q    So he doesn’t have advice or a sort of principled suggestion to Democrats about how they should handle --   MR. EARNEST:  Look, I think individual Senate Democrats are going to have to decide on their own.  But I do feel confident that they’ll consider the merits of the nominees that are handed down, but how they want to respond to that is something that will be ultimately left to them.   Q    And a question that I want to distance from Ron’s a little bit, but it’s sort of along a similar line.  You’ve talked about how -- and the President has talked about how important it is to have a smooth transition and how it’s kind of his last big priority to really make sure that his staff is doing everything that they can to help the incoming Trump team.  Is that incoming Trump team taking advantage of all that cooperation and information that -- and you used the word -- that the incoming President requires to have a successful start?   MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I’ll refer you to the President-elect to assess how well his transition team is performing.  I’m not going to hand out grades from here.  What I can tell you is that the President’s team is focused on making sure we’re doing everything we can to facilitate a smooth and effective transition.  But ultimately, how well the President-elect is served by his team is something that he’ll have to assess.   Q    And so you or President Obama will not be issuing any sort of opinion or pulling back the curtain at all about how the process is actually going.   MR. EARNEST:  Look, I think that there are a number of ways in which we’ve tried to characterize exactly how the process is going, but I certainly wouldn’t want me handing out a grade, if you will, to affect the ability of people to do their jobs.  Ultimately, if I stand up here and sort of offer up a new assessment where, in my view, they may or may not have fallen short, that may not lend itself to the kind of cordial, professional, collegial relationships that will contribute to the most effective transition.   So this is just one of those situations that crops up all too frequently when I’m standing at this podium at least, where discretion is the better part of valor, I guess, a little bit here.   Gardiner.   Q    Josh, this administration has made a huge priority out of responding to online threats from jihadists.  You have a whole set of people at the State Department; you have them at the Pentagon; you’ve got people who have gone after those who posted these messages and killed them in the Middle East.  The administration has gone to Silicon Valley and had conversations with Twitter and social medial companies about making sure they crack down on these jihadi threats.  You had an entire set of businesses up here on Connecticut Avenue for months getting direct death threats, and they said that nothing was done about them.  Is it only a priority if these are jihadi threats?  And is it not a priority for this administration if businesses and normal people are getting death threats and being terrorized for months with no action on the part of this administration?  Help me understand the difference there.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Gardiner, I would strongly disagree with the assessment that somehow the administration had not done anything to respond to this situation, particularly when it comes to violent threats.  I’ll refer you to my colleagues at the Department of Justice and the FBI for the role that they may have played in investigating those threats.     I'd also refer you to the Metropolitan Police Department here in Washington for a discussion of any work that they may have done to ensure that the D.C. residents who were patronizing those establishments were able to do so safely.   Q    Did you know the FBI investigated this and went after the people who had given those threats over the course of these many months, despite the fact that the business owners themselves say nothing has been done?   MR. EARNEST:  I can't speak about any sort of criminal investigations.  I do know that it is a matter of standard practice that if people are threatened with violence, that that raises significant legal questions, and legal questions that must be checked out.  And whether that is local law enforcement or federal law enforcement, that's something that they have to work out among themselves.   Obviously there's a joint terrorism taskforce that in some cases can pool resources to ensure that those investigations are conducted using the best practices that are maintained by individual agencies.  But the safety and security of the public is the President's highest priority, and that's true when it comes to administering our national security policy around the globe, but it's also true when we're fighting crime here in the United States.  And the administration has a quite strong record that we're proud of in terms of the impact of some of our crime-fighting policies and our investments in local law enforcement agencies on the overall crime rate.   But yes, I would quibble with the notion that somehow -- in fact, I wouldn't just quibble; I would strongly disagree with the notion that the administration had done nothing in the face of these threats.   Q    I think everyone in this room has gotten threatening emails and threatening things on social media and the rest.  Again, the administration specifically went to Silicon Valley, had these meetings to talk about what these companies were doing about their response to threats from abroad.  I guess what I'm asking -- I've never heard you talk about what the administration is doing, even not just on a law enforcement basis but a policy basis, reaching out to these Silicon Valley companies.  I mean, the President has recently been discussing the problem of fake news on Facebook.  Why hasn't there been a concern -- a growing concern on the part of the administration about what seems to be a growing amount of vitriol directed at a variety of people, sometimes violent vitriol, within the United States?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, Gardiner, I think over the course -- over the last year or two, you've heard the President I think speak quite bluntly about the rhetoric that was being used in the context of this political campaign, and the impact that that could have on the broader political debate and the climate -- political climate in the country.  So I do think this is something that we have talked about, and it's something that the President is concerned that that kind of harsh, sometimes violent, rhetoric obscures legitimate policy debates that we should be having in this country.   So with regard to the role of Silicon Valley and some of these technology companies and the role that they can play in policing the standards for people who use their platform, I know that's something that they've had a broad internal debate about, as well.    Obviously, there are some important First Amendment issues that come into play when we're having this discussion.  Those First Amendment issues aren't prioritized in the same way when we're talking about overseas terrorist organizations that don't enjoy the same kinds of protections that American citizens do.     But the same observation that I made about these technology companies with regard to the use by terrorists of these platforms also applies to some of the harsh rhetoric that we've seen.  And it's simply this:  That many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley didn't develop this technology to make it easier for hate to be propagated online.  Their idea was to build a community where people could more effectively communicate and engage in commerce.     So they've got their own built-in interest in protecting the First Amendment rights of their users while also creating a community and a platform that people actually want to use.  And yes, if you do administer a platform that is used extensively to propagate hate and to inspire acts of violence, well, I think most people are going to be less likely to use the platform.     So this is the kind of balance that these technology companies are going to have to strike, and it’s something that I know that they’ve been grappling with for some time.  In some cases, I know that they’ve been doing it even outside the context of politics.   Q    Do you think the market just will have to police itself on that then?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, look, I don’t think it necessarily has to be -- I think there is a -- given the First Amendment questions that are raised, the role for the government to play in all of this is going to be necessarily limited by that.  But I don’t think it eliminates the possibility that the U.S. government could contribute to a productive, fruitful conversation about the effective administration of these online platforms to ensure that people’s lives aren’t at risk.   Q    What will happen to the Aleppo insurgents who don’t leave?  Russia says they will be regarded as terrorists and risk death.  Can you help with that?  These are obviously, in many cases, people who have been supported by the United States.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, what I can say about this is that we know that it has been the strategy of the Syrian government, backed by the Russians and the Iranians, to bomb innocent civilians into submission.  And the focal point of much of that bombing campaign has been eastern Aleppo.   It’s a bloody tactic.  It’s disgraceful.  And it’s heartbreaking because of the scale of innocent lives lost.  It’s why the United States has been working so tenaciously through diplomatic channels to try to bring the bombing campaign and the violence to an end, or at least reduce it enough that innocent people can get out of harm’s way and humanitarian assistance can be consistently provided.     But there hasn’t been a willingness on the part of either the Syrians, the Russians or the Iranians to engage in that process particularly constructively, and at least in a way that would yield a sustainable outcome.  Hopefully, that will change.  Hopefully, there’s more progress that we can make.  And hopefully the Russians will show some renewed interest in this.  And we would welcome that change.  But far too many lives have been lost and, yes, it’s true that even more are at risk because of the deplorable tactics that are used regularly by the Syrians with the support of the Russians and Iranians.   Q    Josh, when the Prime Minister from Japan comes to the Pearl Harbor Memorial -- one of the reasons this hasn’t happened for so long is the Japanese don’t feel that they have anything to apologize for generally.  They feel that the attack grew out of the oil embargo and all this.  So how are veterans’ groups going to react with Abe showing up and just sort of bowing but no apology?  Is there not going to be an apology?  And how do you think that’s going to play in the United States?  Because from the United States’ point of view, of course, the Pearl Harbor attack was completely unjustified and a total surprise, and an act of total violence and war that was, from our perspective -- there is no justification for it whatsoever.    So, I mean, this was obviously a problem when the President went to Hiroshima -- there were people in Japan who believed the United States shouldn’t have dropped the atomic weapon; we don’t feel that way.  So how is this going to play out?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, listen, I don’t want to prejudge at this point what Prime Minister Abe may choose to say when he visits Pearl Harbor.  I think that most Americans would warmly receive the sentiment that he expressed in his statement earlier today.  He indicated that he will visit Pearl Harbor, together with President Obama, to “mourn the souls of the victims.”  He continued saying, “I would like to express my resolve toward the future that the tragedy of wars should never be repeated again.  At the same time, I’m hoping to make it an opportunity to send out a message about the value of reconciliation between Japan and the United States.”   So again, I think the kind of sentiment that’s being expressed by the Prime Minister of Japan is one that would be warmly received by most Americans.  But, obviously, the benefits of a visit like this is it displays the kind of opportunity that lies for America’s future, that lies ahead.     Not long ago, within the lifetime of many Americans, the United States and Japan were at war.  And hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of our citizens were killed in that war.  And 70 years later, the United States and Japan actually have formed an alliance that has benefitted both our countries and our national security and our economy.  And I think this visit further underscores the benefits of pursuing peace and reconciliation.   Q    But you don’t think people are going to sort of see the guy coming from a country that caused the deaths to occur saying simply, well, we’ll mourn the deaths but I’m not going to say that I even feel bad about causing the deaths?   MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I can’t speak for every single American and how they will respond to or react to this particular situation.  If I were a World War II veteran who was drafted by the United States military to go and fight for our country overseas in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, I might feel quite embittered.  And I think it would be a perfectly natural and understandable human reaction to not be particularly satisfied with the words of the Japanese Prime Minister.   But I think the thing that we know about the Greatest Generation of Americans is they’re anything -- well, let me say it this way.  This Greatest Generation of Americans, I think we take a risk if we underestimate their patriotism and their capacity to set aside their own personal interests and prioritize the ambition and opportunity of the American people.     And so, yes, there may be some who feel personally embittered.  But I’m confident that many will set aside their own personal bitterness, not because they’re personally satisfied by the words of the Prime Minister, but because they recognize how important this moment is for the United States.  And that’s certainly why they qualify to be described as the greatest generation.   Jared.   Q    Josh, earlier you said that some of the calls by the President-elect could potentially undermine some of the progress that’s been made with the relationship with China.  You’ve also said and the President has said that we’re in a situation where we have one President at a time.  Do any of the calls or any of the other actions that have been taken at this point by the President-elect nibble around the edges or even take a big bite out of this concept of "one President at a time"?   MR. EARNEST:  Listen, I did not participate in any of the phone calls that the President-elect has made over the last several weeks.   Q    But you’re aware of the reaction to them.   MR. EARNEST:  Yeah, I’m aware of the reaction to them but I’m not aware of what he said in them, so that’s why it’s hard for me to assess whether or not this would erode a principle that the President-elect and his team have strongly supported, which is the idea that there’s one President at a time.     Q    When we’re talking about the President-elect still in his capacity as a private citizen, does anything that he’s done approach a violation of the Logan Act, any prohibition against someone who’s not in an elected office making arrangements on behalf of the state or government of the United States?   MR. EARNEST:  I’m not aware of the finer points of the Logan Act, so there may be somebody else that you consult on that one.   Q    Senator Cruz has said that he would rather the President-elect talk to Taiwan than talk to Cuba or Iran.  What do you make of that statement?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, I guess the first thing I would point out is that there are any number of American officials who are in touch with Taiwanese authorities on a regular basis.     Q    He was talking about the implications of these unprecedented calls or thawing relationships that are long frozen.   MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, the relationship between the United States and Taiwan is an unofficial one, but it's not frozen.  After all, Taiwan is the ninth largest trading partner with the United States.   Mark.   Q    Josh, are you saying that, in the White House view, the President-elect's phone call the Taiwan President or the phone call that he had with the Taiwanese President is a breach of the Shanghai Communiqué in and of itself?      MR. EARNEST:  Well, again, I think what is clear -- I think this is just an objective fact -- for the last 40 or so years, there hasn't been another phone call between the President of the United States or a President-elect of the United States and President Tsai or one of her predecessors.  So that's just a fact.     What this administration has pursued very carefully is a one-China policy that promotes peace and stability in the strait.  And that's served the United States well.  It served our ability to work effectively with Chinese authorities, and it's also served our ability to work effectively with Taiwanese authorities.  But if President-elect Trump and his team have a different goal in mind or a different strategy in mind, I'll leave it to them to articulate what those goals might be and what strategy they intend to pursue to achieve them.   Q    Would the administration like a clarification of what their goals are?   MR. EARNEST:  I'm not -- look, I'll leave it to the President-elect and his team to communicate what they would like about his strategy or the policy that they intend to pursue.  I think what I can do is do my best to describe to you the strategy that we have pursued and the significant benefits that have been enjoyed by the United States and the American people as a result of that strategy.   If he's got a different strategy that he intends to pursue in pursuit of some different goals and some different benefits, then I'll leave it to him to articulate that.  Thus far, I think it's kind of hard to see exactly what that would be when you consider that the reaction from the Chinese has been to ramp up or ratchet up their rhetoric that is aimed at Taiwan.  I'm not sure how that benefits the United States, and I'm not sure how that benefits the United States relationship with Taiwan.  I'm not sure how that benefits the Taiwanese people.  I'm not sure how that benefits the U.S. relationship with China.  But I'll leave it to the President-elect and his team to offer up those explanations.   Q    And on the Pearl Harbor visit, is it your understanding that both leaders will be making speeches at that visit?   MR. EARNEST:  Well, when President Obama visited Hiroshima, both leaders had an opportunity to make statements, but I think they stopped short of something that could be described as a speech.  And I think in this setting, I would expect that you'll have an opportunity to hear from both leaders at the memorial site.   Q    You said it was Prime Minister Abe's decision to come, but clearly it was coordinated with the White House, correct?   MR. EARNEST:  Yes, it was.  There were discussions.  In fact, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe had an opportunity to discuss the potential of this visit when they spoke in Lima, at the APEC Summit just a few weeks ago.   Bill Press.   Q    Josh, does the President have a candidate for the next head of the Democratic National Committee?   MR. EARNEST:  The President has not endorsed any of the candidates for DNC Chair, and I don’t anticipate that he will.   Q    So would you say then that of the three candidates remaining -- Jamie Harrison, or Ray Buckley, or Congressman Keith Ellison -- that the President would be happy with any one of the three as the next DNC Chair?   MR. EARNEST:  I don’t anticipate that the President is going to weigh in particularly aggressively in support or against any of the candidates.   Q    Well, that leads to my third question, which is, if the President has said that he recognizes that the Democratic Party needs a lot of work to get back on top and start winning, particularly at the state legislative level and governors races because of reinforcement -- so if the President really intends, and he says he's going to focus on that in his post-presidency, he's going to focus on that, wouldn’t he have an opinion about the person that he's going to be working with as head of the DNC?  Or wouldn’t we expect him to?   MR. EARNEST:  He may.  He just may not choose to express it.   Cheryl, I'll give you the last one.   Q    Okay, thanks.  Just quick on the CR that expires Friday --   MR. EARNEST:  Yeah.   Q    -- have you heard from Capitol Hill?  Are they going to have one --   MR. EARNEST:  Still haven’t seen the bill, have we?   Q    Haven't seen the bill yet.  Okay.   MR. EARNEST:  No, we haven’t.  Look, I know there have been a number of discussions, including over the weekend, between officials on Capitol Hill and some officials at the White House.  But this is a basic governing responsibility.  Republicans have the strong majority in both the House and the Senate.  They've already put off passing a budget once, back when the first deadline arose two and a half months ago.  But, look, they've got a deadline to meet on December 9th, and hopefully they'll meet it.   Q    Do you see this going into next week, maybe just a two- or three-day CR? MR. EARNEST:  I wouldn’t hazard a guess about what the outcome looks like at this point.  But like I said, the original deadline was September 30th.  We're now in the first week in December.  So hopefully Congress will get its act together, and the Republicans who lead both chambers of Congress will fulfill the most basic responsibility that Congress has, which is to pass a budget and ensure the government doesn’t shut down.   Thanks, everybody.  Have a good rest of the day.   END  2:41 P.M. EST

06 декабря, 02:37

FACT SHEET: Presidential Memorandum – “Legal and Policy Transparency Concerning United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations” and Accompanying Report on Transparency in Legal and Policy Frameworks

Since President Obama took office, this Administration has worked to provide to the public as much information as possible about the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations. The President has repeatedly emphasized the importance of transparency concerning the United States’ views and policies in these areas consistent with national security and the proper functioning of the government.  Our actions are effective and legal, and the sustainability and legitimacy of these operations are best served through the clear and public articulation of the legal and policy frameworks under which such operations are conducted.  The Presidential Memorandum and accompanying report issued today help to demonstrate that the United States acts consistently with our values and all applicable law, including the law of armed conflict and international human rights law. Presidential Memorandum and Accompanying Legal and Policy Report The Presidential Memorandum directs national security departments and agencies to prepare a formal report that describes key legal and policy frameworks currently guiding the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations, such as detention, transfer, and interrogation operations.  It also provides that on no less than an annual basis the National Security Council staff will be asked, as appropriate, to coordinate a review and an update of the report for public release.  The accompanying legal and policy report provides in one place an articulation of the legal and policy frameworks which previously have been found across numerous speeches, public statements, reports, and other materials.  The report reflects eight years of sustained work by this Administration to ensure that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective, and consistent with our national interests and values.  While the report does not signal a change, or provide an exhaustive discussion of, our policy and legal views on these matters, and it does not address all conceivable legal aspects or justifications for the use of military force in every context, it does describe in detail key frameworks that guide the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations. Part One of the report focuses on frameworks for the use of U.S. military force overseas and U.S. military support for other nations’ use of force.  Topics include the domestic and international legal basis for the use of U.S. military force; the end of armed conflicts with non-state armed groups; working with others in an armed conflict; and the application of legal and policy frameworks to U.S. operations in key theaters (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen). Part Two describes key legal and policy frameworks related to the conduct of hostilities. Topics include targeting; the capture of individuals in armed conflict; the detention of individuals in armed conflict; the prosecution of individuals through the criminal justice system and military commissions; and the transfer of armed conflict detainees. To accompany the release of this report, the Administration is also making public two documents that relate to the legal and policy frameworks described therein: a 2012 Department of Justice Detention Policy Report and the 2009 Final Report by the Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies prepared in accordance with Executive Order 13491. Both documents are available on the Department of Justice website. 

06 декабря, 02:24

DR Congo: Security Council urges all stakeholders to ensure upcoming polls are free and fair

Expressing concern over the political situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as in light of the upcoming elections the United Nations Security Council has called on all stakeholders to ensure that the polls are conducted in a free, fair, credible, inclusive and transparent environment.

06 декабря, 00:12

Security Council fails to adopt resolution calling for ceasefire in Aleppo

The United Nations Security Council today failed to adopt a resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo that would allow humanitarian aid to reach people trapped in the war-ravaged Syrian city.

05 декабря, 23:17

FACT SHEET: Presidential Memorandum – “Legal and Policy Transparency Concerning United States’ Use of Military Force and Related National Security Operations” and Accompanying Report on Transparency in Legal and Policy Frameworks

Since President Obama took office, this Administration has worked to provide to the public as much information as possible about the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations. The President has repeatedly emphasized the importance of transparency concerning the United States’ views and policies in these areas consistent with national security and the proper functioning of the government.  Our actions are effective and legal, and the sustainability and legitimacy of these operations are best served through the clear and public articulation of the legal and policy frameworks under which such operations are conducted.  The Presidential Memorandum and accompanying report issued today help to demonstrate that the United States acts consistently with our values and all applicable law, including the law of armed conflict and international human rights law. Presidential Memorandum and Accompanying Legal and Policy Report The Presidential Memorandum directs national security departments and agencies to prepare a formal report that describes key legal and policy frameworks currently guiding the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations, such as detention, transfer, and interrogation operations.  It also provides that on no less than an annual basis the National Security Council staff will be asked, as appropriate, to coordinate a review and an update of the report for public release.  The accompanying legal and policy report provides in one place an articulation of the legal and policy frameworks which previously have been found across numerous speeches, public statements, reports, and other materials.  The report reflects eight years of sustained work by this Administration to ensure that all U.S. national security operations are conducted within a legal and policy framework that is lawful, effective, and consistent with our national interests and values.  While the report does not signal a change, or provide an exhaustive discussion of, our policy and legal views on these matters, and it does not address all conceivable legal aspects or justifications for the use of military force in every context, it does describe in detail key frameworks that guide the United States’ use of military force and related national security operations. Part One of the report focuses on frameworks for the use of U.S. military force overseas and U.S. military support for other nations’ use of force.  Topics include the domestic and international legal basis for the use of U.S. military force; the end of armed conflicts with non-state armed groups; working with others in an armed conflict; and the application of legal and policy frameworks to U.S. operations in key theaters (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen). Part Two describes key legal and policy frameworks related to the conduct of hostilities. Topics include targeting; the capture of individuals in armed conflict; the detention of individuals in armed conflict; the prosecution of individuals through the criminal justice system and military commissions; and the transfer of armed conflict detainees. To accompany the release of this report, the Administration is also making public two documents that relate to the legal and policy frameworks described therein: a 2012 Department of Justice Detention Policy Report and the 2009 Final Report by the Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfer Policies prepared in accordance with Executive Order 13491. Both documents are available on the Department of Justice website.